Manipulation: How Far Can It Go?

joyce mitchell 2

“I don’t understand why she would give it all up for a piece of sh*t killer. He must have played some serious mind games on her.”

~ A relative of Joyce Mitchell

When this story was unfolding in the news, I thought it would turn into a Major Teaching Moment about psychopaths and their powerful manipulative skills. Boy, was I wrong. It seems that moment came and went.

On June 6, brutal murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat carried out an elaborate escape that included cutting through metal, breaking down walls, and traveling through steam pipes before emerging from a manhole cover beyond the confines of a maximum-security prison in upstate New York.

Joyce Mitchell, a civilian employee who worked as an instructor in the prison’s tailor shop, assisted them by providing hacksaw blades and other tools. She was also in love with them, and had been having sex with Richard Matt (and possibly David Sweat as well).  She would be the getaway driver after their escape, and planned to live happily ever after with one of them. There was even a plan in place to kill her husband. Joyce panicked at the last moment, and ended up in the hospital instead of at the designated rendezvous spot. Today she remains locked in prison awaiting trial, and faces up to eight years behind bars.

joyce mitchell before

Many people were perplexed. Why would this hard-working, trustworthy, responsible, churchgoing, proud military mom and wife of a fellow prison employee do such a heinous thing? What could possibly cause her to act so out of character?

I wasn’t perplexed, and I doubt many of you were, either. It’s just another story of psychological and emotional manipulation. It may be an extreme one, with plenty of intrigue, drama and dire consequences, but it’s about manipulation nonetheless.

“I believe Mitchell was manipulated and used as a pawn to help Matt and Sweat complete their escape plan, which is not uncommon in prison settings,” wrote Professor Michael Pittaro, a 27-year criminal justice veteran, highly experienced in working with criminal offenders in a variety of settings. “This often starts with an informal conversation, often about the correctional worker’s personal life. This conversation essentially opens the door to further manipulation and starts the grooming process that often follows. Even after many years on the job, I too fell for this simple, yet effective tactic.”

“Getting to the bottom of what — and, more importantly, who — went so badly wrong is second in urgency only to returning the killers to harsh justice.”

~ NY Daily News, ‘The great worst escape: New York Must Urgently Get to the Bottom of How’

This reporter missed the boat. The WHAT is of much more importance than the WHO.

It seems they’re getting to the bottom of “who.” Twelve prison guards have been suspended, one was arrested and released on bond, and one of them, Joyce, remains incarcerated.

Actually, getting to the bottom of “what” — which they should already be aware of — needs to be the primary concern, or prison escapes will continue, as will the innumerable instances of prison guards smuggling cellphones, money, and other contraband into prisons. Until that time, prison employees will continue putting their jobs, freedom, and lives on the line by falling for the manipulation of the inmates they work with, along with putting the public in jeopardy. Whatever prison officials are doing now to prevent these things from happening isn’t enough.

“One of the common responses to misconduct incidents is to create or strengthen policies or laws in an effort to prevent future misconduct. However, such policies are unlikely to deter someone who falls prey to a prisoner’s manipulative tactics. The majority of correctional facilities do not do enough to educate officers and staff members about personal, professional, ethical, and legal boundaries with inmates.” ~ Michael Pittaro

 Joyce Mitchell is merely a scapegoat in a much bigger debacle of manipulation that occurred at the prison.

How in the world were Matt and Sweat allowed to live on the prison’s “honor block,” which came with privileges of wearing street clothes, cooking meals, greater freedom of movement, and having jobs that brought them into contact with civilian employees like Joyce? They were able to con their way there by diligently playing rule-respecting good guys in order to gain privileges and trust.

I’m all for rehabilitation (and reform of the entire prison system). But looking at the facts of these two inmates makes it obvious they should have been given increased security instead of increased privileges. It’s obvious both were psychopaths. Does that mean anything to prison officials and prison psychologists?

Matt and Sweat were both career criminals with a history of extreme brutality.

David Sweat
David Sweat

David Sweat was in a park unloading stolen guns when a police officer came upon him. Sweat shot the deputy fifteen times, ran over him for good measure (while he was still alive), and then stole the officer’s weapons before fleeing.

matt 1
Richard Matt

Richard Matt had previously escaped from another prison. Most recently, he was incarcerated for kidnapping and then brutally torturing, murdering and dismembering his former boss, William Rickerson. When he was wanted for that crime, he ran to Mexico and murdered again, spending several years behind bars there before being brought back to the US and convicted of his boss’s murder.

During the trial, extraordinary measures were taken to protect people in the courtroom and to prevent his escape: A sniper was stationed outside of the courthouse. Twice the usual number of deputies were stationed in the courtroom. Matt was made to wear an electric stun belt, and the glass that covered the wood counsel tables was removed out of fear that Matt might break the glass and used the shards as weapons.

“You can never have enough security with him,” said Gabriel DiBernardo, a retired captain with the North Tonawanda Police Department who was the chief of detectives leading the investigation into Mr. Rickerson’s death. “You can never trust him. You can never turn your back on him.”

Mr. DiBernardo, who retired in 1998, offered a sentiment echoed by others in law enforcement here: “He is the most vicious, evil person I’ve ever come across in 38 years as a police officer.” NY Times, Rick Rojas, ‘A Convicted Murderer’s Escape Alarms Investigators From His Past’

Despite the facts, which prison officials were well aware of, Matt and Sweat managed to con their way to the ‘honor block’ and — with seemingly no supervision — were allowed daily access to Joyce Mitchell.

What did they expect? Why was what happened a surprise? I guess I shouldn’t bother to ask. After all, these supposedly knowledgeable officials were conned by two inmates who — after their “brilliant” escape — were caught because of the trail of the dirty socks and prison-issue underpants they carelessly left behind.

What kind of people make such a grandiose escape from prison and then blow it by counting on someone they manipulated to show up and rescue them, and then end up staggering around the woods drunk, eating pop tarts, and leaving behind a trail of dirty underwear while being pursued by 1,200 cops? Psychopaths.

The whole fiasco was completely unnecessary. If there’s one place where psychopaths are recognized and people are aware of manipulation tactics, it’s prison. It was a system-wide failure, and simply blaming and punishing Joyce Mitchell and other staff who were manipulated won’t solve the problem. Making the most of a Major Teaching Moment will. It’s an opportunity for education, not for blame.

Learn How Inmates Manipulate:

Downing of a Duck

14 Steps of a Set-Up

♥ Thank you for reading.


Comments are closed.

“This is a short, easy to understand textbook on manipulation tactics. I highly recommend it to anyone; people who don’t yet realize what’s happening to them, seekers of understanding and peace, loved ones of persons being manipulated, healthcare providers, criminal justice, and seasoned survivors trying to stay on top of their manipulation detection game. Don’t let the modest price tag on this fool you –- the information inside is worth far more.”

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35 thoughts on “Manipulation: How Far Can It Go?”

  1. merijoe

    Though I completely agree with your points about her being manipulated by these monsters who have gotten away with a lot because of their manipulating behavior and I see the similarities of me being manipulated by my own psychopath and I should have known better…..I only hurt myself.
    Joyce was indeed manipulated but we’re talking helping convicted, well known heinous murders and torturers and hurting a lot of others in the process as well as agreeing with the murder of her own husband-in my humble opinion, she needs to be punished for her role in this, and I do think a part of it was her fault. I think people need to be held accountable for their own actions.
    Yes, the system is broken and changes need to be made and the stupid prison authorities/doctors are not free from fault, but Joyce is over 18 and needs to be held accountable.

    1. Admin

      She’s incredibly lucky they didn’t kill anyone while they were out. She’s also incredibly lucky that she came to her senses at the last moment, because they surely would have killed her. Yes, she did help convicted, heinous murderers, but I believe this shows how far manipulation can make some people go, no matter if they’re over 18 or not.

      Merijoe, when you say you “should have known better,” it goes contrary to what manipulation is all about. If I look back and say I should have known better, next I should ask myself why, then, didn’t I know better? The answer to that question is contained within the definition of covert manipulation:

      Covert emotional manipulation occurs when a person who wants to gain power and control uses deceptive and underhanded tactics to change thinking, behavior and perceptions. Emotional manipulation operates under the level of conscious awareness. Victims don’t realize what’s going on while it’s happening.

      That’s why I didn’t know better. Blaming myself would be misguided and fruitless. Educating myself is what makes sense.

      Not everyone would be vulnerable to the level of manipulation Joyce Mitchell was. They might draw the line at smuggling hacksaw blades to a convicted killer, for example. But the reason they picked HER is because they saw she was vulnerable enough to be taken to that level, and they took her there slowly.

      Prison isn’t the answer to everything. She did break laws and prison regulations, I understand that. But I think what would help her is to be sentenced to a couple of years of intensive therapy and never letting her work with inmates again. Helping her would also help keep the rest of us safe!

      But it doesn’t matter what I think. She will spend some time in prison. Thanks for your comment, Merijoe.

      1. merijoe

        yes, I agree, there are other means of punishment to fit the crime-obviously Joyce is/was crying for actual help, not a time out….and you are right, it’s a slow methodical way these manipulator’s have, it reminds me of “boiling the frog slowly” you don’t even realize until its too late, that you have lost yourself to anothers agenda

        1. Admin

          They sure did boil their frog slowly, and thoroughly. She has been cooperating with investigators, though, despite what must be massive embarrassment. This could still turn into a learning experience for everyone involved, unless they brush it off as just stupidity or gullibility.

    2. Tom

      someone mentioned that she should not have been in close contact with a psychopath. She was not trained to look for manipulation. She had no way to know that’s what they were and the prison officials had no business putting her in close contact with psychopaths who could manipulate her!!! Probably the best thing would be for this to come out in court and some form of correction response be given by the prison system!
      Something like having a rule that a psychopathic killer should have no direct contact with them, perhaps even not allow them see them and vice versa

      1. Admin

        It was really negligent of the prison to do that. I agree, murderous psychopathic killers have no place being around members of the general, untrained and unarmed public. Isn’t that why they’re put in prison in the first place?!

        There was already an investigation into a suspected relationship between her and Sweat a couple of years prior, and nothing became of it.

        Whatever these prison people knew about psychopaths, it’s not enough. I don’t care if they were or weren’t formally diagnosed — it doesn’t take a psychiatrist to declare them psychopaths in this case, it’s pretty glaringly obvious, especially with Matt, and especially because these people supposedly have knowledge about psychopaths. But the prison’s actions seem to show a total lack of understanding of what that means.

        There was a male guard who gave Matt and Sweat access to the area behind their cells at night (where they cut through the pipes and escaped), supposedly so they could rig some electrical wiring contraption to use to cook dinner with. WTF?

        It took a village to get these two out of prison; Joyce Mitchell didn’t do it on her own. It took the ENTIRE village, starting at the top.

      2. Babs

        Could I suggest that her physical appearance may have contributed…and these guys saw an overweight less-than-attractive woman who would just love to receive that kind of attention. I have seen it before. A truly beautiful woman has ‘heard it all’ from men, but to this woman it probably was a new experience and she hit a ‘high’ (walking on air from the flattery and attention). Just a suggestion. She does not look particularly bright.

        1. Admin

          Hi, Babs. I’m not sure her physical appearance contributed. I think it’s safe to say women of all sizes, shapes, ages, and degrees of beauty have fallen prey. It is true that society values physical beauty, and the ramifications of that preference can have long-reaching effects on everything from income to self-esteem, so it could contribute to a person’s vulnerability. We all want to feel desirable and attractive, so flattery could have been a powerful tactic in this case.

          But even if appearance isn’t an issue, we all have some aspect of ourselves that isn’t recognized, or at least not acknowledged, by others around us (it could be intelligence, or some skill we have, such as artwork or dancing, etc), and a smart predator will zero in on those things. Imagine a stunningly beautiful woman who is always praised for her appearance. Now imagine that she is very intelligent, but no one notices because they focus so much on her looks. Now imagine that some con artist comes along and pretends to appreciate her intelligence…

          The extent of the duping in this case — helping dangerous inmates escape from prison — puts her into a different category than those of us here, and because of that I think she probably had some serious needs that were going unmet, along with low self-worth.

          I don’t think we can surmise how intelligent someone is by their looks. Albert Einstein was not a handsome guy, for example. And people of all intelligence levels have been conned by prison inmates — even psychologists and psychiatrists, some of whom lost their life savings, aided with escapes, and ended up behind bars themselves.

          And to anyone here reading this who might be down on themselves because of their appearance, here are two quotes from Diana Vreeland I came across randomly yesterday while looking at a fashion blog:

          ““You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend, spouse, or partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female.’”


          “You don’t have to be born beautiful to be wildly attractive.”


          Thanks for your comment, Babs!

          1. Linda

            I thought I was “too old” to be attractive to a man at this point in my life – which of course the Predator probably picked up on, alsong with my emotionally sparse marriage. He poured on the complliments, many of which were obviously totally exagerated and false…. but they were cartainly great fun to hear again! By the grace of God my boundaries held, and I did not have sex with him, but the Bond was still soul-deep. I agree, there is no criteria, save vulnerability, and we all have those, even if we lack youth, beauty, wealth or a genius-level IQ.

            1. Admin

              Hi, Linda. He probably did pick up on that, along with your unmet emotional needs. One thing I said to my therapist many times, was that he knew me better than I knew myself. While to me my unmet needs were undefined and vague, they were crystal clear to him. So were my other vulnerabilities (by the way, everyone has them — they’re only a problem because there are people who’ll prey on them). One day he said to me, “You are such a people-pleaser!” and I said, “I am not!” That makes me smile now. He was so right. This is one of the things we take from the experience — we learn more about ourselves, which may just be the biggest mystery around.

              I’m glad to hear your boundaries were strong enough to keep you from having sex with him. That would have made the whole thing much worse. I know the soul-deep bond is more than enough to overcome. But not letting him cross that boundary is a testament to your strength, and I’m sure you’re getting even stronger now. You might be surprised with the final outcome (if there ever is such a thing).

              1. Linda

                I certainly am stronger now! (I mentioned to a friend that I now identify less with unicorns and more with dragons!) What a paradox.. to have learned so much about myself, to have gained so much strength, from an experience that felt almost terminal for a while! It has been two months now since he Hoovered me back – for one week – and I am really reveling in my sense of freedom and in gratitude for my “normal” life! During that week I saw, very clearly, what and who he was really is, and the cruel games he is playing. It was valuable, if very risky. Many prayers of thanks going up from this woman!

              2. Admin

                Less with unicorns and more with dragons, I love that! It is a paradox. You’re not making these gains because of what he did, but in spite of it. Keep moving forward, Linda!

    3. Babs

      She was more than just ‘part’ of it. She is getting off easy…7-8 years? That’s it?

      Of course she would be in very deep dog doo-doo if Sweat or Matt had killed people…

      Aren’t we missing the point here? No correctional officer should be that gullible.

      End of Story

      1. Admin

        First, Babs, Joyce Mitchell was not a corrections officer.

        Second, a LOT of things needed to go wrong in the prison for these inmates to escape, and before they did, to have had as much liberty as they did, and for their activities to go undetected for so long. “it now appears an array of oversights, years in the making, set the stage for the prison break…”

        Remember how Joyce smuggled in hacksaw blades in frozen hamburger meat? A corrections officer, Gene Palmer, “could have put the meat through a metal detector, but he didn’t, which was a violation of prison policy, the prosecutor said. Mitchell, 51, did not have access to the cells, which is why she needed Palmer to hand off the meat, according to Wylie.” Palmer also smuggled in screw drivers and other tools for the two inmates, and gave them access to prohibited areas. He was released on 25K bail. Palmer said, “Matt provided me with elaborate paintings and information on the illegal acts that inmates were committing within the facility. In turn, I provided him with benefits such as paint, paintbrushes, movement of inmates, hamburger meat, altering of electrical boxes in the catwalk areas.”

        “State officials announced 12 CCF employees have been suspended in connection with the case. Among those 12 are three senior-level administrators…”

        If the rest of the system at that prison had been working correctly, the escape never would have happened.

        The fact that prison officials gave these two brutal murderers, who were life-long criminals, the extra freedom allowed on the Honor Block is a glaring example that Joyce wasn’t the only one who was hopelessly manipulated.

        If a maximum-security prison can have an escape because of one civilian employee being manipulated, we’re all in trouble. Do you know how many prisoners are having sexual relationships with employees and guards right now, as we speak? And who smuggle in contraband? It’s a systemic problem. Pinning all of it on Joyce Mitchell only guarantees it will continue. This is a major opportunity to dig deep and find the real cause of these problems.

        It is human nature to find a scapegoat. They can be burned at the stake and then our problems are gone, *poof* like magic. In reality, scapegoating and victim blaming never work.

        “‘Shit, I can be their daddy, I can be their man, their boyfriend, best friend or whoever they need me to be,” he says. “As long as they get me what I want I can be whatever and whoever they need me to be. It’s all a game really, a tradeoff. I know nobody does nothing for free, and if I got to sex one of these broads down to get her to bring stuff in to me, than you know what time it is.’ With minimal training, some of these women are being thrown into the lion’s den without the tools to succeed. And the hiring practices of prisons don’t help the situation.”

        Why Do Female Prison Guards Keep Having Sex with Inmates?

  2. Linda

    The two links are blood-chilling. In or out of a prison environment, the techniques are the same. Thank you. More information = more protection.

    1. Admin

      They are chilling. Rarely do we see the entire process outlined, along with the cold and mercenary goals of the manipulator. We can all learn from it, even if we don’t work in a prison.

  3. Linda

    This raises a question for me: Reading the “observation” sections of the two links, I see an absolute correlation with the psychopath who entered my life. He befriended my husband and I, and visited us and asked questions and watched our interaction. He then contrived to talk with me alone, but very properly at first. After about six months he began to make his move, subtly at first, and escalating, following the exact “formula” that we read in the descriptions and comments on your blog, and even similar to the outlines in the links you have posted on this page. Yes. I was a “Duck”. A sitting duck!

    My question: How? How do they know, where do they find the techniques with which they seduce and entrap us? In my case, this man did not grow up with sophisticated online resources. He could not have read a How-To guide to covert manipulation. How is it possible that these methods, these mind games, are apparently practiced by psychopaths the world over, from initial observation right on through the horrific stages leading, often, to our destruction? Is there information about this aspect of these predators?

    1. Admin

      They practice. For years. They have nothing else to do. All they think about is what they want, and how they can dupe someone into giving it to them. I’ll let one of them explain ~

      “Observe, Analyze, Resolve. Those three words are what guides my social interactions…

      I’ve been enacting a sort of social experiment with my own family. In order for me to improve upon my knowledge of people and gauge my analytical accuracy, occasionally I have to test certain hypotheses. As an exercise many times I go into a situation with a certain goal and grade myself on not only the achievement of said goal but also the speed and cunning used. For instance, the most amateur level of this is going into a conversation with the goal of ‘make this person feel this (ie. happy/sad).’

      But anyway, the experiment was to on occasion reveal obvious clues to my psychopathy to key family members. My hypothesis is that anything short of literally screaming “I’m a psychopath” at the top of my lungs (and that still may not work..) and my family will never put two and two together. No matter how blatant the clues. Because of the human tendency to paint people as something they’re not, the people who cling to me will never accept that I’m not who they want me to be, unless I shove it in their face and even then, I ‘must be confused.’”

      ~ ZKM

      You can read more about it here: Down the Rabbit Hole

      1. Linda

        This is sickening. And instructive. I suppose, as wild animals are either prey species or predator, these are the predators and we became the pray. Wild animals “practice” predation when they begin life; so too do these predators among us. So indeed, it is in their DNA. There is much to think about. Now I understand how I “fell for it”. He is an experienced predator, and read me like an open book. My God I am fortunate to be free! Bless you… your blog was – and is – my key to freedom!

        1. Admin

          We are so fortunate to be free! Let’s stay that way. The best way I know of is to learn as much as we can, develop strong boundaries, and apply all of it to real life.

  4. lyn

    I was also dismayed that the opportunity to shine a light on psychopathy was not grabbed up by the media, and the public. The victim blaming phenomenon of not wanting to accept that bad things happen to good people is at play.

    I read about a renowned psychiatrist who works with prison psychopaths say he can still be fooled by them. Anyone with an ounce of compassion, empathy, and conscience is and always will be a target for psychopaths. Those traits are the psychopaths food. They can catch a sniff of it and start the cooking process even in the most aware. Prisons should be accountable for allowing psychopathic inmates anywhere near anyone, especially the more vulnerable. Civilians working in prisons should be routinely assessed for their level of vulnerability as a measure of protection to all, all the way to members of parole boards, with periodic debriefing and education.

    The mere presence of compassion, empathy and conscience is what allows the belief that all people are capable of rehabilitation. It is just not true. All along the line from courtroom with glass removed to being in the honor block of a prison, these two sniffed out and cooked up some meals that allowed them to eventually escape, with Joyce Mitchell being the scapegoat for all.

    1. Admin

      Yes, even members of parole boards! Psychopaths are granted parole more often than non-psychopaths, because they can con the board members into believing they’ve changed. The truth is, they’re much more likely to re-offend.

      “Canada’s prisons are granting early release to psychopaths 2½ times more often than they grant it to other criminals, a group of psychologists says. Psychopaths can charm and manipulate their way past even a veteran prison or parole official, says Steve Porter…”

      1. PGF

        PLEASE submit this to the New York Times Op-Ed section. You are OUTSTANDING!

        P.S. Thank you for saving my sanity.

        1. Admin

          Thank you very much, PGF!

          P.S. I’m very happy that I saved your sanity. xo

  5. Nearlybel

    Where psychopaths target and victimise us humans, for that is their reason for being here. And they hone their skills according to their environment and use society’s values against us.
    I believe psychopaths recognise other psychopaths, whether consciously, sub or unconsciously or maybe it harks way back when.
    And it is this that accounts for them being so successful in their interviews on parole boards, in courts, in every walk of life.
    The people that make life changing decisions on others are usually higher up the food chain, usually single minded in their careers, and with Babiaks writing in mind, some psychopathic.
    Great post Admin, and by it, I hope an awareness around that poor woman is raised.

    1. Admin

      Hi, Nearlybel. Interesting thought about psychopaths recognizing each other. Here’s what James Fallon, the psychopathic neuroscientist, says about it:

      “Can a psychopath identify another psychopath?

      JF: I will meet people at bars and start talking to them and I see a few tells. One of the tells, by the way, is the lack of tells. I’ll catch the eye of someone, and I get the real strong feeling that they’re one of em. I certainly can see some characteristics that are telling.

      JG: The main one being the lack of tells?

      JF: The lack of tells and how they interact with people. The difference between salesmanship, a bullshitter, and the way a good psychopath will manipulate people. It takes about 15 minutes. Like with schizophrenics, you don’t know they’re schizophrenic until after 15 minutes, they start getting weird. Or someone with Alzheimers, they repeat the same story again.

      For psychopaths, they practice all this stuff. It’s in that 15 to 20 minute range that things will start popping up. Somebody else may come into the conversation and they’ll use the same manipulative technique to get into their heads, but beyond normal, in an inappropriate way. It’s beyond just salesmanship, because salesmen will use the same technique over and over again, too. But someone who’s really reading people, they will change it a little bit. You can see something similar, but they’ve looked at that person enough, read their weaknesses, so they modify it. That, I think, is a tell.”

      How To Think Like a Psychopath, Psychology Today

  6. Reality

    dear admin.

    This a very interesting post and fom me personally a very thought provoking one.
    It is really astonishing how the whole society is so ignorant about the true meaning of psycopathy and how psycopaths operate in every aspect of life. Imagine that they exist from the begining of time among us and even with all this research the recent years people are so ignorant!!!

    But judging from me , before my encounter with the P and my research on the subject , i had no idea about how they operate by manipulating unsuspecting people-victims.
    This poor woman was the perfect prey for them and it is obvious that she will be the scapegoat for the complete faillure of the system to protect itself from the psycopathic manipulation of criminals in prisons.

    I agree with you that this woman was a victim of manipulation by these criminal psycopaths as it happens with a lot of of the employees in the correctional system. But i do not think that i can put this woman and all the other workers in prisons who fell victims to psycopathic criminals in the same category as you , me and the majority of the people who fell for psycopaths in romantic relationships or professionaly.
    I empathise with the workers in the correctional system who fell victims , i know what a great ordeal they have been through, i do not blame them as bad people becouse they have been under terrible manipulation , but i do not think that it is the same with falling victim to a non criminal psycopath. Why? simply becouse the people that work in prisons or in correctional system they know what they deal with. They know that the incarcarated people, psycopaths or not, are convicted dangerous criminals. That’s why they are behind bars in the first place!!.So, at least initially they had the most valuable information that me and you did not have when we encountered the P in our lifes. They knew that these are dangerous people, whether in my case and yours we had to find out by ourselfs as the psycopaths in our lifes were high functioning not criminal talented liars.

    There is something that is called common sense and free will that everyone should pay attention to. These two people who fooled this woman and the other employess were incarcarated !!! The fact that a criminal psycopath can manipulate an employee does not absolve 100% the personal pesponsibility of the employee to stand up for him/herelf and resist in being a complete puppet in the hands of an incarcarated individual!!! it is like i say that a woman who falls in love with a convicted serial killer and sends mails and goes to see him in prison , is only a poor victim of psycopath. I do not think so becouse she already knows who she deals with. Most probably she has serious issues not to be able to use her brain and judjment about something that it is so obvious and she should seek proffesional help.i believe that there is always a fine life between being a victim and taking personal responsibility that it is not always easy to define, but it exists in my own opinion.

    Yes , the employes in prison should have better training, the system must be much better in this, everybody should make properly his job and these people should have psycological support in high level given theit encounters with such criminals.
    Though , i refuse to accept that we have not any control at all upon our thoughts and actions even under the spell of a psycopath and this is not victim blaming of course. I left, you left, after torture yes and while we should reveal by ousrselves the true nature of these criminal minds .We did not destroy our lifes, we did not kill ourselves in the end. Even this woman at the last moment came to her senses and spoke to the authorities.I do not believe that she has to be convicted or punished hard. I do believe that the system was inadequate and terribly failed and this case has togive a lesson to all the system to correct itself even though i am not very optimistic about this.
    But i do not have the opinion that we are totally victims in the hands of the psycopaths without any chance to escape. We are victims when we are ignorant , when we do not have the information about theit nature.
    After we know that someone is psycopathic, or probably psycopathic or just a badass, or a convicted criminal, the personal responsibility arises of doing everything possible to protect ourselves.
    Ideally the system should help us in this effort but rarely this is the case. Unfortunately these creatures live among us since centuries and they will continue to do so.That’s life Also a lot of non-psycopaths bad people are inhabitants of the same planet. I believe that being aware of this , using common sense and having personal boundaries is a good way to navigate life. Even like this i do not believe that i will not get hurt, I will , for sure as life is a journey and i do not want to stay prisoner in my own castle just to avoid dangers becouse like this i do not live and i feel dead. But armed with boundaries , common sense and the wisdom i earned after a psycopathic encounter i feel that i live my life in a more conscious and aware way keeping my heart open for the beauty and love that exists around me despite the dragons that sneak around. I am not afraid of them , i just know they exist and try to avoid them as much as i can.

    Lots of love to you

    1. Admin

      Hi, Reality. Nice to see you. I agree that Joyce Mitchell and others like her are not in exactly the same category as we are, but they are in the broader category of having been manipulated.

      Yes, they know what they’re dealing with… to a point. If they’re aware and trained, yet they still fall victim on the job, then something is missing from their awareness and training. What happens is that even though they know what to watch for, when it happens to them it seems like something different. It’s not the manipulation they were warned about — oh no. It’s the real thing. That’s how it seems to them.

      I wrote an article about this phenomena several months ago ~ Convicted, Diagnosed and Institutionalized? Not Enough To Stop a Psychopath These people in the article are designated Sexually Violent Predators, who have served their prison sentences but are deemed to dangerous to be released into society, so they’re sent to forensic psych hospitals. And the people who are trained to work with them — psych techs, nurses, psychologists, etc. — fall for their manipulation in droves. Even though they’re locked up in psychiatric hospitals with the diagnoses of Psychopath and Sexually Violent Predator. Even with their training, when it happens to them it’s something different. They believe the inmate has changed. Or was falsely convicted. Or the staff member believes they’re the one who has finally come along and had an impact. Yes, they know they’re dealing with the worst of the worst… but this one’s different. He never got a fair chance in life. They see good in him that no one else does, and he sees the good in them… etc.

      Common sense is the first thing to go.

      I’m not so sure this equates to women who seek out incarcerated serial killers. They seek them out; they don’t have contact with them daily and then become ensnared.

      “We are victims when we are ignorant, when we do not have the information about their nature.” I’ve said one thing a hundred times on this blog, and it’s that I believe until someone has a personal experience, they’re at risk, despite how much they know. They’re still ignorant. I hope I’m wrong. Before I met the psychopath, I read Without Conscience and The Sociopath Next Door. But what did those books have to do with the (seemingly) wonderful man I fell in love with? Absolutely nothing. Never even crossed my mind. Would it now? You can bet on it. But whatever I knew before it happened, it wasn’t enough.

      Part of the prevention program facilities have in place is for everyone to watch out for each other, and report immediately any suspicion that a coworker has something going on with an inmate. One of Joyce Mitchell’s coworkers did just that, and it was investigated but supposedly it couldn’t be proved, even though officials remained unconvinced. They had so many chances to intervene. She brought in home-cooked meals for them every week — that by itself should have been more than enough evidence that she shouldn’t have been working in a prison. Not everyone is cut out for it. But everyone there is human (well, almost everyone) and therefore vulnerable, and the whole system needs to work together to prevent these things from happening. Maybe Joyce should have had more common sense, but it seems like a lot of people there should have.

      Lots of love to you, too.


      1. Reality

        dear admin,

        I see your point about how far the manipulation can go and that probably the people who work in the correctional system and in prisons while are supposed to be trained ,finally a lot of them fall under the spell of the dangerous psycopaths thinking that ‘it is something else’. Yes, it can be like this but does it mean then that everyone is doomed to failure when it comes to psycopaths or other manipulators and their targets? does it mean that anybody who becomes a target of these men /women has no chance to escape never? this is what i am thinking about and i believe that there is always a place , maybe very small but existant for setting limits in one’s behavior even under the spell of a psycopath.

        Every person has its one personality , its own vulnerabilities, its own traumas that make him/her more or less susceptible to covert brainwashing. Probably Joyce was vulnerable enough at the certain phase of her life, or not trained or without enough protection of the system , or all of these at once and she became the weak part of the chain. I do not judge her at all. I empathise with her becouse i am sure that she is in a terrible emotional condition after all this ordeal.
        In my opinion her case illuminates the role of the individual itself in every given situation. I believe that character and perosnality can really make a difference even in under the worst circumstances. Human history is full of these paradigms. Mandela, Gandii, mother Teresa , Martin Luther King and less famous people who had stand for themselves and for freedom and justice even under dictators or violent regimens or pure brainwashing like the communistic regimens or the nazi Germany. Milgram’s experiment gives a high proportion of people around 37 % who can resist the power of authority. Look what you yourself had done with all this great blog that you offer to the world after your experience with a terrible creature.

        I quess it is my philosophy in life about the sole power of the free human spirit and the chance that everybody has the ability to really change his life even under the worst conditions that makes me see this case in this way. I know that covert manipulation is invisible and very dangerous but the fog at some point can be lifted and a lot of people find the power to say no and to resist. Joyce hershelf did it finally!! Your blog is full of such stories of succes. Eventually these creatures cannot manipulate all the people for ever!

        By no means do i say that people who failed should be scapegoated or blamed. I do believe that such cases must be seen with great empathy and must be used as a reason to look more carefully in the needs of each individual seperately , especially those working in high danger jobs.
        The only thing that i do not want for victims of any predator( psycopath, manipulator , corrupted politician) is to be blamed and scapegoated but in the same time ,personally i can not ignore the power that each of us has in determining at least to a certain extend the route that his/her life may take. It is the influence of my favourite philosopher Aristotle this i suppose ,but let’s be it, we are all different and that is the beauty of humanity.

        thank you for your great job
        i do not comment often but i never lose any post.

        have a great day

        1. Admin

          Hi Reality,

          “but does it mean then that everyone is doomed to failure when it comes to psycopaths or other manipulators and their targets?”

          I hope not, and I don’t think so. I hesitated saying it for that reason, but that’s how it works. We can never remove all the risk, but I do believe those of us who’ve experienced it and learned as much as we could afterward are in the best possible position to prevent falling victim.

          Joyce Mitchell did have her chance to escape; unfortunately, it came rather late in the game. A factor in these prison-manipulation scenarios is that employees are blackmailed — if they don’t go through with it, the inmates don’t hesitate to threaten to turn them in for smaller infractions they’ve already committed. Once they comply with a favor or request, they’re “owned” by the inmate. So they keep doing favors, and the stakes only get higher. It snowballs, and in some cases turns into an avalanche. That may have prevented Joyce from setting limits on her behavior. She knew it was wrong, but persisted anyway. It makes me wonder if some element of blackmail was involved. Yes, I think most people, most of us, would have set limits on our behavior had we been asked to do something illegal by the psychopath. It depends on the individual and how much their boundaries can be pushed.

          No, not everyone is doomed to failure. Psychopaths know who will be open to manipulation. If you read the other article I gave a link to on this site, the woman I interviewed said she never fell victim and she said it was because she was “a confident alpha.”

          “I believe that character and personality can really make a difference even in the worst circumstances.”

          I’ll bet (I hope!) Joyce Mitchell’s character and personality will become a strong force in future bad circumstances. These experiences can clarify and strengthen the elements of good character and strong boundaries. I think we don’t realize just how vulnerable some people are, or just how cunning others are. What we probably saw here was extreme vulnerability colliding with extreme cunning. She’s likely horrified that she went against her own values, and horrified that others see her as someone without morals. Of course I’m just guessing, but she looks and acts like she’s feeling a lot of misery.

          “Mandela, Gandii, mother Teresa , Martin Luther King and less famous people who had stand for themselves and for freedom and justice even under dictators or violent regimens or pure brainwashing like the communistic regimens or the nazi Germany.”

          If only everyone were like them! The psychopathic control of nations would eventually crumble. Look at what just ONE of them was able to do! They were a thousand times stronger than any psychopath.

          “Look what you yourself had done with all this great blog that you offer to the world after your experience with a terrible creature.”

          Thank you. But first I had to fall prey, or this blog would never exist. I have changed quite a bit, and I’m definitely part of that 37% now. I believe I would not have given those electric shocks had I been involved in Milgram’s research, but can I say so for sure? It’s hard to fathom that the majority of people did.

          “The only thing that i do not want for victims of any predator (psycopath, manipulator, corrupted politician) is to be blamed and scapegoated but in the same time, personally i can not ignore the power that each of us has in determining at least to a certain extend the route that his/her life may take.”

          I can’t ignore it either, but at the same time, mind manipulation can negate that power. That’s the problem with it. You know what I mean? Yes, eventually most wake up, but it can take some time, and a lot of bad things can have already happened.

          Thanks for your comments, Reality. It’s good to know you’re still out there reading!

          I hope you have a great day, too.


  7. Dee

    Because it happened to me I am able to understand how a woman would do the unthinkable for her psychopathic man. In his presence, it’s almost like we are temporarily insane, in a trace-like state, zombified to do things we would not do in our right minds. It’s absolutely astonishing how the psychopath can mind-control us, so that we surrender all of our boundaries, for their pleasure. I didn’t aid and abet, in a way that would warrant criminal prosecution, but I was his partner in crime in other ways. I was his accomplice. I shake my head thinking of all that I did. Urrrrg!

    1. Admin

      Hi, Dee. She did do the unthinkable, but I can’t judge her for it either because I know how it could happen. It’s an extreme case, but if the right forces collide, anything’s possible. It brings to mind heiress Patty Hearst robbing a bank with a machine gun. Mind control is real. Just because we might not have done what Joyce Mitchell did, doesn’t mean she wasn’t vulnerable enough to be taken to that level.

      Patty Hearst became ‘Tania’ the urban guerrilla.

  8. Rocklooker

    Dear Admin:

    I have been following your blog for some time because it provides insight into some of the personalities that are active in politics and government. My interest is directly at subject in the Joyce Mitchell case because it is centered in the milieu of public policy–prisons. I see that some readers have made various responses in reaction to your blog, disagreeing or quibling sometimes, that center on the merits of the case, that is who should have done what, this is what she should have done, she is still an adult, etc, etc. Most likely few readers have worked in a prison environment day after day after day and experienced how that can drag down the morale of the best of employees. Then place that employee around the worlds best con men–the most glib and charming– whose sole focus is getting out of prison and the employee is doubly jeopardized.

    Thus far I have commented on the situation as pertains to the merits of it. However, it is important to know that the merits, unfortunately, are not most important in assessing what is happening. That is because, these days, few if any public institutions are run as they should be if merit is important. The institutions, including prisons, are subject to the funding decisions of politicians many of whom care little about the effectiveness of the programs they are responsible for funding. To a great extent, those officials do not believe and are elected because they do not believe that government can be effective. That does not mean that funding for prisons goes down, however, because building more and more prisons while starving effective programs is a growth industry and there is a direct connection between politicians and contractors who trade favors as they feed off the publicly funded largesse.

    The defacto collusion of the funding process is essentially invisible to most people and any open discussion of it gets overwhelmed by wedge issues promoted by those who benefit from that deception. And here we arrive at the most important explanation for this never ending cycle of ineffectiveness. The politicians who are most adept at capturing the positions of responsibility for the funding are the ones who possess the characteristics which make psychopaths the worlds best con men. That is the politicians have the ability to take advantage of the tendency of most people to not see that they are being manipulated when it is happening to them personally. More than would be believed, politicians get elected because they are just like the psychopaths in prisons who are themselves allowed ‘free reign’ to manipulate and take advantage of people like Joyce Mitchell.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Admin

      Thanks for your eye-opening comment, Rocklooker.

      So what you’re saying is that politicians don’t really want to see the improvements that would prevent this sort of thing from happening, because the overall ineffectiveness of the system is precisely what lines the pockets of greedy. Wow. Prisons certainly are lining a lot of pockets in the US now. Nearly 25% of the world’s prison population is in the US, even though Americans only make up 5% of the worlds population.

      There are more than two psychopaths involved in this story, and it’s much bigger than it seems.

      Joyce Mitchell truly is the scapegoat here. She’s overwhelmed with shame and self-blame, crying her eyes out, when she should be mad as hell and suing the hell out of everyone involved.

      Here’s some proof for your claim that “building more and more prisons while starving effective programs is a growth industry and there is a direct connection between politicians and contractors who trade favors as they feed off the publicly funded largesse”:

      “A number of private prison companies have been inserting occupancy guarantee provisions into prison privatization contracts and requiring states to maintain high occupancy rates within their privately owned prisons. Three privately run prisons in Arizona have contracts that require 100 percent inmate occupancy, so the state is obligated to keep its prisons filled to capacity. Otherwise it has to pay the private company for any unused beds.

      “A 20-year deal to privately operate the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Ohio includes a 90% quota, and has contributed to cutting corners on safety, including overcrowding, areas without secure doors and an increase in crime both inside the prison and in the surrounding community.”

      The report notes that contract clauses like this incentivize criminilization, and do nothing to promote rehabilitation, crime reduction or community building.

      “[These contracts run] counter to many states’ public policy goals of reducing the prison population and increasing efforts for inmate rehabilitation,” the report states.

      Reverend Michael McBride, director of Urban Strategies and Lifelines to Healing at PICO National Network said the real human impact of having lockup quotas was unjustifiable.

      “It’s important for us to step back and look at this from a moral perspective; all people of any faith or no faith at all can claim it’s reprehensible to imprison someone for [the purpose of0 making money or financial motives,” he said. “It’s important to always remember every single person is a human being … even if they have done something we may find problematic or illegal. They are not profit incentives.”

      6 shocking revelations about how private prisons make money

      Thank you for your comment!

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