Dating a sociopath part 1
Then follows devaluation, lies, infidelity and poking at insecurities; then an eventual discarding, replacing one unwitting victim for another.Countless people say they’ve experienced something similar, sharing their stories in online forums — such as Psychopath Free.com, Aftermath: Surviving Psychopathy and Love
The shared trait is callousness, an innate indifference to others.Though the lies started right away, it wasn’t until much later that Sandra realized how badly she’d been conned.They met at a mutual friend’s birthday in 2012, sharing a bottle of wine at a restaurant when everyone else on the guest list was late.Eighty per cent of respondents talked about their “extreme mental health effects,” including depression, suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, Forth told the Star.About a third said they had been physically abused.“These people suffered a substantial, profound impact of being involved with these individuals,” Forth said.These have become support networks for people who believe they’ve been caught up with a psychopath — someone who, despite appearances, is unable to experience love or empathy, who is charming but insincere, lacking in remorse and pathologically egocentric.
About 1 per cent of the population may fit the criteria.
The most common diagnostic tool for psychopathy is a checklist of traits, which include: lack of remorse or guilt; lack of empathy; glib and superficial manner; deceitfulness and manipulation; impulsivity; need for excitement; egocentricity, among others. A maximum score on the checklist is 40, psychopaths score 30 or above, and regular people score around 5. Forums are some of the few resources for victims, and are more about affirmation and support than clinical accuracy.
Carleton University psychology professor Adelle Forth recently tapped into these online forums, a deep well of anecdotal reports, for a series of forthcoming qualitative studies on the effect of psychopaths in personal relationships.
So many people simply can’t understand how they could get so deceived. About a year into her tumultuous relationship, Sandra found herself Googling the warning signs and came across one such forum, where many recognize the erratic behaviour that left them heartbroken and searching for answers. Once, after discussing graphic novels, he stole one of hers, later thanking her for the thoughtful gift. “It felt like I was high all the time.”The message boards, she says, felt like therapy or an AA meeting.
She now thinks that was “gaslighting,” a strategy of manipulation designed to make someone question their sanity. At one point she was spending four hours a day online.
There were unbelievable, magical coincidences: he “just knew” when she couldn’t sleep, calling late at night to keep her company.