Why Psychopath Recovery Sites are Flawed

There are a seemingly infinite number of websites for those seeking to recover from abusive relationships.  Of these, a non-trivial number focus on relationships in which the “survivor” swears that their ex must have been a “psychopath.”  This is asinine for two reasons: by sheer probability, the odds that such an abusive relationship was with an actual psychopath is small, and it creates paranoia for those that should know better.

We need to recall Kent Kiehl’s claim in his book, The Psychopath Whisperer, that 23% of all psychopaths are roaming about, unchecked by any prison walls.  For the statistics and mathematics involved, I direct the reader to the reasoning laid out in the book.  Given that roughly 1% of the adult population is psychopathic, this would imply that no more than 1 in 400 adults that one could tango with are psychopathic.  This is a relatively small number.  The prevalence of people with ASPD is thought to be roughly 1 in 25 adults and the rate of individuals with narcissistic personality disorder has some estimates reported as high as six percent of the population (with some combination being comorbid ASPD and NPD).  I bring all of this up because the claim that one is a psychopath should be taken seriously and there are much higher numbers of individuals that could fall into the category of being a general asshole.  Information on psychopathy is still being gathered by scientists and we should be skeptical of any generalization by a layperson.  While the stigma of psychopathy is well-deserved, we should refrain from piling on when it is not called for.

So if the rate of psychopathy in free adults is approximately 1:400, it should become immediately clear that not all abusive relationships (if they even were abusive by objective standards) can belong to psychopathic behavior.  The reality is that dysfunctional relationships affect many whom are not psychopathic.  As such, we should take with a grain of salt any claims that someone was in an abusive relationship with a psychopath.  In the absence of a professional analysis, all that is left is speculation.

Now taking the perspective of the “victim,” we must consider the effect that communities devoted to shaky analyses have on the fragile.  We are left with an echo chamber in which the paranoia and grievances of a sensitive demographic are amplified by many orders of magnitude.  What actual benefit is there in creating a witch hunt (for a group that may have not actually been responsible) in which those recovering from abusive or otherwise dysfunctional relationships are surrounded by others that have the same level of paranoia?  People begin to distort reality as they echo and mimic the stories of one another and all that is left is a burning desire to inflict damage on a demographic that may or may not have caused the open sores being poked.  I suppose there is some merit in sharing stories about abusive relationships in order to educate others, but we must not forget that the lens is always through psychopathy.  These people are unconcerned with getting the question of “was my relationship one with a psychopath?” correct and are more concerned with convincing themselves and others that – without a clinical or scientific assessment of the individual – they were in a relationship gone bad with a scary psychopath.  If such groups were concerned about abuse from Westernized Muslims, there would be an uproar.  Perspective is badly needed.  Sadly this perspective is lost as these individuals surely gauge all future relationships through an equally distorted lens.

None of this matters to these websites devoted to exploring recovery from psychopathy.  The very real possibility that any wounds were not inflicted by a psychopath after all is bad for business.  All they do is create further stigma against a group that probably deserves it – but only if the stigma is based in objective fact.  Finally these individuals facilitate the further degradation of their own psyches by parroting worst case scenarios from a demographic that simply cannot be responsible for all of the victims’ suffering.  Instead of crying wolf when you cannot prove that it was a wolf that bit you, avoid the labels all together and learn from past experiences, vowing to not judge those that come later lest they actually sin.

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Comments

  1. Anon Still says

    Nice try, Jessica.

    If 1% of the adult population is psychopathic, how does that translate to 1 in 400 adults? 1% = 1 in 100.
    Furthermore, Hare in ‘Snakes in Suits’ says 1% of the population is psychopathic, not 1% of the adult population.

    These are of necessity ball park figures. Nobody actually knows. When it comes to high-flying corporates the figure goes up to 4%. Nobody’s studied any other sectors of society. Given that Reagan, Clinton and Bush were probably psychopaths to greater or lesser degree (Dutton) I would suggest that self-disciplined, high-functioning Ps gravitate upwards. So there is one heck of a problem.

    ‘Political Ponerology’, written in secret by psychiatrists / psychologists during the Soviet era, agrees with the 1% figure for ‘pure’ psychopaths.

    As for ‘The Psychopath Whisperer’ – the reviews indicate it’s a self-obsessed, pop-lite book. Not hard science. There are plenty of books about Ps, but few rock-solid ones. Equally, there are plenty of studies about Ps but only a few I trust. Anything written by Hare has my trust.

    In the UK the figures indicate, assuming 10% -20% of psychopaths are in prison, that 10,000 to 20,00 psychopaths are in prison, whilst 1% of the population being psychopaths means there are 630,000 altogether. Minus the 10,000 to 20,000 equals roughly 600,000 psychopaths hidden in the wild, or over 90%. I don’t believe Kiehl’s figure of only 23% for one second, any more than I believe Dutton’s nonsense about psychopath’s being ‘wise’ and ‘successful’.

    Now, there may be ‘innumerable’ websites about psychopaths but only a few are active –

    http://www.psychopathsandlove.com
    http://www.psychopathfree.com
    http://www.lovefraud.com/
    https://nopsychos.wordpress.com/
    http://www.chumplady.com (possible sociopath ex)
    https://onemomsbattle.com (narcissist ex)

    The first three are the most active ones.

    Equally there’s quite a few blogs by psychopaths, but most of them are dead or very nearly dead. Yours is about the only one that’s alive.

    As for relying on a professional analysis – wow. Manipulative or what? I appreciate that you don’t want to be sidelined and that you want to be yourself and I have no idea how to square the circle of being a psychopath in the open. But how many of us have a professional beside us when we get into a relationship with a psychopath (and professionals that actually know what they’re doing are by all accounts few and far between)?

    As for being bad for business – fascinating. The manipulation continues. These are blogs driven by anger and wanting to help others. Psychopathfree publishes its accounts and the sums involved are peanuts. It’s staffed by volunteers. Psychopathsandlove – I doubt very much if a fortune is being earned from the books published. And it’s quite clear that the published articles come from the heart – a very empathic woman. Lovefraud – there might well be larger sums of money involved, but this is a blog that is very driven to get the message out there. It’s probably close to a full time activity for Donna Anderson. And what about you, publishing YOUR book and recently posting a lot? Business?

    Let’s break down the continuing manipulation further (in brackets, my comments):

    ‘All they do is create further stigma against a group that probably deserves it – but only if the stigma is based in objective fact. (BS. Ps won’t volunteer for analysis, and if they’ve not been part of the forensic population they won’t have a background history, and they are VERY good at hiding their subtleties. So the chances of getting an accurate objective analysis are near zero.)

    Finally these individuals facilitate the further degradation of their own psyches (Huh? a, as if you care – i.e. this is your convenient mask b, this is words to you, you don’t know what it means c, no, we share and empathise and relieve our pain and we learn from each other so it STRENGTHENS us)

    by parroting worst case scenarios (no, they come to these sites at a total loss and it’s all new to them, and nearly all of them are speaking from the heart)

    from a demographic that simply cannot be responsible for all of the victims’ suffering (yes it can. As a predator – and I’ve read a few of your posts – this is something that you can’t understand. Yes, all adult humans have ups and downs and sufferings, but what a P causes us is in a completely different league and WE KNOW THE DIFFERENCE!)

    Instead of crying wolf (BS – we who are empathic can genuinely see the real deal when it comes to other empaths. Yes, some empathic people don’t see the trolls and Ps masquerading as real people on these sites, but most of us can ‘sense’ the genuine article OVER TIME. I won’t tell you how. And nearly everyone on these sites is NOT crying wolf.)

    when you cannot prove that it was a wolf that bit you, (of course no one can prove it. Thats why we’re warning each other and sharing experiences. None of us has a court order to force the P in our lives to undergo analysis, and even if we could most of them would beat the system. Only the dumb ones with little self-control get caught. Most of the smart ones are still out there.)

    avoid the labels all together (why? How else do we describe what happened to us?)

    and learn from past experiences, (NICE – so it’s all our fault, huh? Not that past experience is going to help us because for most of us our P experience is our FIRST P experience)

    vowing to not judge those that come later (What? What’s that mean? I can’t find it as quote )

    lest they actually sin.’ (Ummm – excuse me? The Ps in our lives have tried to destroy us, so YES, they have actually sinned)

    I have respect for you in putting the P’s side in your posts. We learn a lot from psychopaths that are prepared to open up. But we WILL challenge you, just as you seek to destroy US.

  2. Anon Still says

    P.S. Psychopaths cause a disproportionate amount of damage e.g. they’re 1% of the population but 10% – 20% of the prison population. Let’s imagine that every psychopath destroys 10 people’s lives (although most of those 10 people will eventually recover) – based on the not unreasonable guesstimate that every relationship with a P lasts no more than 3 years. And let’s imagine that there are equal numbers of female psychopaths as male psychopaths, but that the tools for finding the female Ps haven’t been fine-tuned yet. So ball park that 1% of psychopaths as causing immense damage to 10% of people.

    1 in 10.

    Quote ‘by sheer probability, the odds that such an abusive relationship was with an actual psychopath is small’

    No, I think the odds of a relationship with a psychopath are actually quite high.

    And we haven’t even got round to the fact that those psychopaths will have parents, brothers, sisters, children and workmates, SOME of whom will be very damaged by the P over time. Nor that there are a high percentage of psychopathic bosses, Presidents and the like completely f**ing over our lives.

      • Anon Still says

        I’ve no problems with the quote. I’ve big problems with Kiehl’s analysis.

        He reckons ‘68,873,400 adult (18-50) males in the US. 1 in 150 are psychopaths’

        Well, he himself has said that just under 1% of males are psychopaths, so that’s 1 in 100.
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4059069/

        So that would make 680,000 adult male psychopaths

        But never mind that, he actually says in the article linked to that there are ‘1,150,000 adult males who would meet the criteria for psychopathy in the United States today’

        The arbitrary cut off age of 50 dramatically reduces the number of psychopath, but a psychopath is still a psychopath at whatever age they are. A white collar psychopath – CEO, President, whatever – I bet they don’t suddenly turn ‘nice’ just because they’re over 50, just when they’re hitting the peak of their power.

        He then says ‘Assuming 20% of these inmates meet criteria for psychopathy, then approximately 354,414 psychopaths are incarcerated or 77 percent of the psychopaths in the US are in prison.’

        If we assume 20% of his own number (1,150,000 psychopaths) then roughly 230,000 are in prison.

        1,150,000 – 230,000 = 900,000 MALE psychopaths are at liberty.

        Which is roughly 80% of MALE psychopaths at liberty.

        We haven’t even factored in the number of female psychopaths at liberty (unknown, because the measuring instruments might not detect them accurately).

        Everything about Kiehl smells wrong. Hare I trust – Kiehl I don’t.

    • MA32 says

      If it is 1 in 100 or 1 in 400 is beside the point. Point is: it is unlikely. Get over it.
      Statistics say it’s unlikely and you insist the odds are quite high. But that is sheer probably. Well, if we consider that, for instance bipolar disorder, which shares quite a few symptoms with psychopathy (Hare himself aknowledged that), as well as BPD and NPD, and even SPD, and if we consider that bipolar disorder is more prevalent (1) than any of those and may fully explain the syptoms, why focusing on the psychopathy hypothesis? You know, lovefraud’s blogger thought her husband was a psychopath and it turned out he was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder if I’m recalling it correctly (it’s been a while).

      1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3486639/

      • Anon Still says

        ‘Point is: it is unlikely. Get over it.’

        No, in a lifetime it’s likely. And yes, I’ve met quite a few bipolar people. They’re visible. Psychopaths aren’t.

        ‘if we consider that bipolar disorder is more prevalent (1) than any of those and may fully explain the syptoms, why focusing on the psychopathy hypothesis? You know, lovefraud’s blogger thought her husband was a psychopath and it turned out he was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder if I’m recalling it correctly ‘

        Really? WTF? Bipolar has the same ‘symptoms’ as psychopathy?
        And yes, you’re completely wrong about lovefraud’s blogger. Her psychopath was mentioned in Hare’s ‘Snakes in Suits’

        Of course, you’re trained in the field of psychology ….

        • MA32 says

          There’s a difference between encountering a psychopath in a lifetime and the psychopath your husband/ boyfriend. Also, psychopaths tend to be found mostly in jail. I don’t think he was assessed. The way she promoted the idea, may have influenced it don’t you think? Also, perhaps Hare mentioned in a perspective of giving examples of symptoms from a case people think is true. And yes, check out the symptoms of mania/ symptoms associated with mania and the PCL-R.
          Also, I’m trained in the field, I’m a psychology major, who probably know more than some random person on the internet (aka you).

          • Anon Still says

            Cool. You’re a psychology major. Nice.

            Well, I’ve actually had my life disrupted by a P. And no, most psychopaths are NOT found in jail. This is from Hare’s own website:

            ‘Psychopathy may prove to be as important a construct in this century as IQ was in the last (and just as susceptible to abuse), because, thanks to Hare, we now understand that the great majority of psychopaths are not violent criminals and never will be. Hundreds of thousands of psychopaths live and work and prey among us.

            He calls them “subclinical” psychopaths. They’re the charming predators who, unable to form real emotional bonds, find and use vulnerable women for sex and money (and inevitably abandon them). They’re the con men like Christophe Rocancourt, and they’re the stockbrokers and promoters who caused Forbes magazine to call the Vancouver Stock Exchange (now part of the Canadian Venture Exchange) the scam capital of the world. (Hare has said that if he couldn’t study psychopaths in prisons, the Vancouver Stock Exchange would have been his second choice.) A significant proportion of persistent wife beaters, and people who have unprotected sex despite carrying the AIDS virus, are psychopaths. Psychopaths can be found in legislatures, hospitals, and used-car lots. They’re your neighbour, your boss, and your blind date. Because they have no conscience, they’re natural predators. If you didn’t have a conscience, you’d be one too.’

            http://www.hare.org/links/saturday.html

            And he’s written a book about them ‘Snakes in suits’. And he also reckons that 4% of corporate high-fliers are psychopaths.

            Quote: ‘Hare mentioned in a perspective of giving examples of symptoms from a case people think is true’

            here’s the actual quote from ‘Snakes in Suits’

            ‘Donna Andersen is a freelance writer in Atlantic City, New Jersey, who was conned and bilked of her savings by a psychopathic bigamist, James Alwyn Montgomery.’ (Page 301).

            Good luck with your exams.

          • MA32 says

            “Subclinical” psychopaths are not psychopaths in the same sense we are talking about here (people who score 30 or more in the PCL-R).

            My exams are far, far away in time 😉

    • MA32 says

      People, you are not mental health professionals, you don’t have training in the field and it seems you haven’t done your research, so I can’t give you much credit.
      So you know, I am not a psychopath, I’m actually someone who is actually trained in the field of psychology (not that they are mutually exclusive, however) and can’t support armchair “diagnosis”.

  3. Anon Still says

    @MA32
    ‘“Subclinical” psychopaths are not psychopaths in the same sense we are talking about here (people who score 30 or more in the PCL-R). ‘

    I think the author of that article, posted on Hare’s website, got the terminology wrong and shuld have said ‘subcriminal’.

  4. Anon Still says

    Seems at one time Professor Hare was using the terms interchangeably.

    “Compensate” psychopaths were described as the subclinical or subcriminal psychopath by the famous Dr. Robert Hare (p 29)
    ‘Defense Against the Psychopath’

    • MA32 says

      That’s misleading at best (from Hare’s part). If they’re “subclinical”, by definition they’re not psychopaths

        • Anon Still says

          But if they’re subcriminal they can be. The ‘compensated psychopath’ seems to be the ‘invisible’ psychopath as opposed to the blatantly obvious, criminal psychopath, from the digging around I’ve done. As far as I can figure out subcriminal P = Corporate P. Ties in with the stats quoted in that article too – 300,00 psychopaths in Canada, population 35 million, 50,00 Ps in prison.

          There’s a lot of ‘misleading’ in the field. Pick your statistics. Hare’s 1% of the population sounds good to me. That’s what this disagreement is based on. Or you could choose Kiehl’s numbers – just 1% of adult males, wonder where he got that from? And then further reduce that number with an arbitrary cut-off age of 50, I wonder why he would do that?

          • MA32 says

            So, you have to agree with me: It’s misleading. Jessica is a subcriminal psychopath (and you can search for others – on tumblr there are lots of them). What she isn’t is a subclinical psychopath, because someone who isn’t majorly affected by it to the extent it deserves clinical attention, isn’t likely to score above 30 – and if you read her stuff you’ll see it clearly. Also, think about the word itself. Subclinical psychopaths do not exist. There are non-criminal, subcriminal psychopaths (whatever) that are still psychopaths and make up for only 23% of psychopathic individuals. So, there you have it.

            Disclaimer: By saying “if you read her stuff”, I didn’t mean to suggest you should become a resident troll.

  5. Curious says

    “What actual benefit is there in creating a witch hunt…”

    No one wants to create a witch hunt. In fact, the number 1 piece of advice that is given is that former partners and associates of psychopaths engage in No Contact. The worst possible thing you can do is start a witch hunt against “your” psychopath or psychopaths in general, and that is stated very explicitly many times over on these sites.

    Psychopath survivor websites do not start witch hunts. They support the survivor as he or she recovers from emotional and physical abuse.

    It seems, Jessica, that you fear retribution…?

    • Jessica Kelly says

      I simply don’t see the point in singling out psychopaths where I strongly believe that most abusive relationships do not involve them. It seems like a culture of paranoia. Me? I’m out in the open by choice; I’m simply calling unhealthy behavior where I see it =)

      • Anon Still says

        And good for you. Genuinely. You’re open. Most Ps aren’t. And the culture of paranoia stems from the fact that Ps are invisible. And do HUGE harm to individuals, and very probably do HUGE harm to societies. Your average histrionic or bipolar – they’re obvious. And they’re not nearly as malign, in fact why would a bipolar be malign? The bipolars I’ve met have been lovely people. Another big difference – most P’s are malign. They want power. They want control. They gravitate upwards. Yes, Narcs as their lesser cousins are malign. There’s endless blogs about them. But it’s the invisibile Ps that are the worst, and we’re all just waking up.

        One day the concept of Ps will be ‘normalised’ and we’ll be taught about them and then maybe there won’t be this focus on them. But right now there’s a focus because a growing number of us are starting to connect the dots.

        • MA32 says

          Bipolar patients are likely to behave in an antissocial fashion when manic. However if detected, it can be relatively easily corrected with drugs. However sometimes it takes a while until they get diagnosed and the drugs are adjusted to fit the patient’s needs.

    • Bears says

      I’m on the websites often simply for kicks, and as much as they preach “no contact,” it seems rarely followed. They seem incapable of not looking at their ex’s social media, stopping by the places they frequent to see if they are around, and then they turn and curse that man for being so toxic and making her feel that way. After breakups they still slink through his emails and lament that he is a monster for acting like nothing ever happened between them.

      It’s repulsive and desperate. Good job to the ones who actually made it out of bad relationships, but the others? How can their “P” slander her good name by calling her the crazy ex-girlfriend when she fits the bill just fine on her own?

      • Curious says

        Yes, No Contact often takes a while to follow faithfully. Indeed, that is the *entire point* of the websites – to help people break free from their addictions to horrible people who abuse them. If it were easy to go No Contact, the support groups wouldn’t exist. Psychopaths often don’t understand what non-psychopaths mean when they emotional abuse, but they often seem to understand the concept of addiction. So think of it that way. As for being the “crazy” ex-girlfriend (ha ha ha), remember that part of 1984, when the insists that 2+2=5 and punishes the protagonist until he accepts it? That’s what it’s like being with a psychopath. It takes a long time to regain reality, after being told over and over again that the reality you perceive is wrong. Former partners of psychopaths are *driven* crazy by the psychopaths. So yes, they display erratic and emotional behavior. It’s part of coming back to a reality that is not defined by the psychopath.

        • MA32 says

          Those sites many times do not focus on helping victims of abuse, they focus on spreading misinformation and blame it on psychopathy, when those people weren’t even diagnosed. Look at Lovefraud and The courage to heal on tumblr.

          • MA32 says

            You have some nerve… You left like 2 or 3 comments almost as big as the text just to be disruptive, then you went on responding and responding and responding, being that when you have nothing “better” to say you accuse a perfect stranger on the internet of being a psychopath… last time I saw something like this was in the comment section of the blog of an acquaintance of mine, who has a resident creationist troll on his blog that he cannot ban because that is technically impossible when you’re using blogger.

            But I’m the troll, here. Clearly.

  6. Anon says

    MA32

    It becomes fairly easy to spot shifting truths, emotional immaturity and twisting of facts and reality. Most of us are very familiar with the work of Drs Millon, Hare, Guggenbuhl-Craig, Meloy and others. Not to mention the Leveson and Hare checklists.

    Experience teaches that, if it walks like a pig, grunts like a pig….it’s probably a pig.

  7. Anon says

    MA32

    “….Also, I’m trained in the field, I’m a psychology major, who probably know more than some random person on the internet (aka you)…..”

    …My exams are far, far away in time….

    Grandiose delusions of superiority and pathological lying.

    Let’s play psychopathic bullshit bingo, shall we?

  8. Aurienne says

    What I learned today:

    Psychopaths are evil because they’re invisible, except they can be diagnosed and spotted by untrained feces-fingered, keyboard pounding shit chimps over the internet.

    Also don’t use your potentially superior cognitive empathy to measure human nature because affective empathy is a superpower, and feelings are fucking copyright, again by feces-fingered, keyboard pounding shit chimps.

    I’m so friggin’ enlightened now – you know, I think I’ll just stop being a fucking psychopath right now! I hope I can get by without that unceasing ennui.

  9. MA32 says

    “What I learned today:

    Psychopaths are evil because they’re invisible, except they can be diagnosed and spotted by untrained feces-fingered, keyboard pounding shit chimps over the internet.”

    Spot on.

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