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.