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LIFE HAPPENS — 9 Comments

    • Hi Joyce – I just watched Evil Lives Here and felt compelled to reach out. I wish my mom would respond to my brother the way you did with Patrick but my brother has been bailed out of his crimes by wellmeaning but enabling parents and other relatives. I read with interest in this post about redefining family roles because that is what my other brother and I have been doing for the past 2 years, and we are being made out to be unloving and unforgiving. We know we are doing the right thing by cutting my oldest brother (the golden child who continues to be viewed as the golden child) out of our lives, but it is lots of work to hold our boundaries and not be sucked in by my parents and their definition of Christian forgiveness. As a believer, I know that I must forgive (which I do), but that that does not mean that I need to continue a relationship with a sociopath. I left my sociopath police sergeant husband after 18 years of an abusive marriage, so I’m absolutely not going to allow even my own brother to disturb my peace. But even so, I find myself trying to understand how someone becomes a sociopath – I keep trying to make sense of it and I cannot. I also keep trying to figure out why I seem to attract people into my life who have these narcissistic sociopathic traits. I am an educated woman (and even a therapist!) and can usually spot the red flags a mile away. But it’s those people who seem to manipulate without even knowing they are doing so that can suck me in before the red flags appear, and by then, I am invested in them and want to see the good,etc. Anyway, I just wanted to ask if you feel like you have come up with any explanation as to why certain people turn into sociopaths? Again, as a believer, I don’t believe God creates evil people or makes mistakes. And there seems to be no rhyme or reason in terms of how the person was raised. I have to believe there’s some genetic component because I actually am beginning to see signs that my mother (as much as it pains me to say it) has extreme narcissistic malignancy which has manifested in some sociopathic tendencies (extreme lying in the face of proof, for instance). But beyond that, I just don’t get it. I read a couple of your other posts and read that you refer to your father as a “sperm donor” (at least that’s what I gathered?), so I’m assuming he’s not such a good man – do you think he played a part in Patrick’s behavior turning so drastically? Or Patrick’s dad? Was there something that happened around the time Patrick was 11? Sorry if these questions are invasive as I don’t mean to be insensitive – just trying to understand. I know my brother had some trauma around the time he “turned”, but at the same time, I have had much trauma in my life and am not a sociopath! Lol Ugh – just wish I could figure it all out and make sense of things. Thanks for “listening”! And all the best to you as you continue to heal!

      • I am also a believer, and no I do not believe that God makes people evil, BUT just as there is a genetic link to alcoholism there has been a proven link to sociopaths, BUT that said, not all people who have little or no empathy are EVIL many curb that tendency and become useful to society. However if you will search out writings and books by Dr.Robert Hare who is one of the earlier researchers in the disorder.

        No Patrick did not have any Trauma as a child, though he tried to present himself as an abused child, even in his defense at the trial for Jessica’s murder that was his “defense” Patrick’s father and I were divorced when he was young but he had a loving and large extended family and many great role models, my second husband had known Patrick from an early age and both of my sons adored him and idolized him. My biological father, and his mother, both had the behaviors that can be diagnosed as psychopathic and yet both were educated and wealthy people who never went to prison though my fahter should have. I know for a fact he killed at least two people. Fortunately my mother divorced him when I was an infant and married a wonderful man who adopted me and loved me completely. My mother however grew up in a family where the oldest female was the enabler for the family bad boy and I fell for that for WAY too long before I finally realized the truth about Patrick and I would not let him ruin my life any more.

        Yes, he totally trash talked me for abusing him, but my other biological son and I are very close and he did not cry abuse. In fact, he is ADHD and was a PILL to raise but he is a successful man, husband and father and a loving son.

        The behavior around age 11 was somehthing that NOW I would recognize as PSYCHOPATHIC behavior, lying in the face of evidence. Even when the parents and the kid showed up with the check and the money and told me (and Patrick) what happened PATRICK STILL LIED THAT HE HAD NOT GIVEN THE CHECK OR THE MONEY TO THE BOY for the radio. My other son has told me some things about Patrick at that age and before that age that I didn’t know about until they were adults that showed that there were earlier signs that Clay observed and I knew nothing about. In psychology this is diagnosed as OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANCE DISORDER. ONLY after the age of 18 can the diagnosis of ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER (PSYCHOPATHY) be made and only then if they had shown signs BEFORE age 18.

        Your questions are not intrusive because we as people want to know what MAKES A PERSON A PSYCHOPATH, were they abused etc. how much is enviornment and how much is genetic. Years ago the doctors thought children were born blank slates on which ONLY INVIRONMENT WROTE BUT NOW THEY KNOW THAT ABOUT 80% OF WHAT AND WHO WE ARE IS DETERMINED BY GENETICS..

        I raise cattle and goats and Border Collie dogs on my farm. If a cow is what we call “high headed” (i.e. dangerous) I get rid of her immediately because her calves will also be more wild than is safe to handle. My herd of cattle has been culled for 40 years for disposition, and even now every once in a while one will be born that from infantsy t will be hard to handle and I cull it out to the butcher.

        Patrick’s father was no a psychopath but I think some of his grandparents (grandfathers) might have been from the stories I have heard. On my mother’s side her maternal grandfather was a violent drunk and so was her brother and I can trace the Psychopathic tendencies back several generations prior to that though none of them went to prison.

        Learning about psychopathy has been my total concern for the past 15 years, and there is still much to learn and science is extending the range of knowledge. But in the meantime HEN SOMEONE SHOWS YOU WHAT THEY ARE, BELIEVE THEM AND GET AWAY.

        As for “forgiveness” even St. Paul and Jesus said that if your brother offend you and will not repent after you have tried to talk to them, taken witnesses, and taken it before the church TREAT THEM LIKE A HEATHEN, NOT EVEN TO EAT WITH THEM. In psychology we call this NO CONTACT.

        My maternal grandmother and her mother and my mother were the enablers in the family, and when I refused to take up the role, it caused a breach between me and my mother, and she continued to enable him until her last year when she was too senile to even remember him.

      • rereading your post above I understand your confusion, as an advanced nurse practitioner I also was a therapist and worked in several psych hospitals…I have also studied psychopathy (antisocial personality disorder is the correct name per the DSM V) I too attracted psychopathic types of friends etc. and it was partly because I was raised in a dysfunctional family where the oldest female was expected to ENABLE and RESCUE the family bad boy, also males were valued more in the family than females.

        As a therapist I could see this problem in others, but NOT IN MYSELF and for a long time I tried to make everyone else happy and if someone treated me badly it was some how my fault, or if they were mad at me it was my fault, I was not perfect and if you were not perfect then you were not OK…I was never able to please my mother, and of course it was my fault totally…

        I once actually CAUGHT a “friend” STALING from me….and I cried for 3 days because I had UPSET HER by catching her STEALING what she could have had only by ASKING. I cried for 3 days, feeling bad for catching her….but I finally WOKE UP and realized what I was feeling was WRONG! She should be the one who was ashamed not me! SHE had committed the crime, NOT ME…and I broke off the friendship.

        My sense of “loyalty” to friends and family was making me a first class enabler. And in my family, like yours, the person who REFUSES TO ENABLE the family bad boy is TRASHED AS UNFORGIVING.

        Go back to your Bible and read the story of Joseph and his brothers. I had always wondered why he was so “mean” to them when they showed up in Egypt for grain. It had probably been 20 maybe 30 years since he had seen them when they had sold him as a slave, and he wanted to TEST them to see what kind of men they had become during that time. ONLY when he saw that they would have done ANYTHING to protect Benjamin so that their father would not grieve like he had when he thought Joseph was dead did Joseph reveal himself to them as their brother.

        My mother’s brother was a psychopath I believe and a bad drunk as well, and after he had held my grandmother as hostage at gun point for 3 days while on a bender, I cut off being around him and I would not go to her house at Christmas if he was to be there. She would cry and tell me I was going to hell because I had not forgiven him, but FORGIVENESS is not anything but getting the BITTERNESS OUT OF YOUR HEART, it does NOT mean you have to associate with those who have not repented genuinely.

        There is no doubt in my mind that psychopathy is somewhat inherited, but the behavior does not have to be criminal. The worse the narcissism is though I think the worse the behavior will be. Patrick is 100% narcissistic. He believes he is superior to anyone else on earth, AND believe it or not, HE THINKS HE IS A SUCCESS IN LIFE and should be ADMIRED.

    • Dear Joyce,
      I never write to any website. I just watched Evil lives. I was very moved listening and watching you. I am so sorry for your loss. It is one now. The saddest part is that you lost your son a long time before he went to prison. I am a former heroin addict, car theif, bank robber. I lost my family, friends, almost physical life. I am in recovery, own and operate two businesses. I am one of a few success stories in my community. My beautiful daughter is a psychopath and a sociopath. She has no conscience or empathy for others. I realized this years before these terms were used. They say we choose our parents. I don’t know the whys and wherefors of how any of this works, but I certainly did not choose mine. I would give anything to have had a mother like you Joyce. Your insight and honesty touched me, deeply. I wish that I could meet you and talk to you, I would certainly give you a hug. Thank you for your courage,insight,strength and humor. Watching and listening to you today has made me stronger. Thank you. God Bless you .

      • Dear Michele, I am so glad that my story touched your life. Unfortunately research has shown that psychopathy is pretty much inherited my mother’s brother was a psychopath, and her maternal grandfather was, in a study of identical twins raised in differnt homes if one is a psychpath there is an 80% chance the other one is as well. Many psychopaths escape crime and become successful in business and politics (Nixon and Bill Clinton are two examples I think were/are)

        I am very proud of you for bringing yourself out of the hole and becoming successful. I didn’t learn that my ENABLING and my holding on to the belief that Pastrick could or would change and I could help him do it. I finally got smart and realized he is a dangerous individual and does not want to change.

  1. For dealing with people who are toxic, whether or not they are psychopaths or just users or mooches, I suggest reading GAMES PEOPLE PLAY by Dr. Eric Berne, this is a simple way to look at the interactions of how people deal with you, their ego states and how to avoid playing their “game” which leaves you in the ditch.

    It is written in simple language that anyone can understand and is even funny. Dr. Berne had a great sense of humor, for further reading his book WHAT DO YOU SAY AFTER YOU SAY HELLO is the next step.

    In order to deal with the toxic people in our lives we must first EDUCATE OURSELVES TO BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE THEM. And to recognize what we do to stay in their games, rather than opting out.

    It is a life long process of learning and we can start to heal ourselves and the wounds that have been inflicted on us in the past.

    I admit that for decades I fell into the trap of ENABLING others to continue to do their worst by allowing them another chance after ANOTHER CHANCE and just keep up the malignant hope (a cancer of my soul) that they would see how much I loved them and quit hurting me.

    I will not become cynical and stop caring about people and helping them if I can, but I will no longer allow myself to be manipulated into enabling them.

    Learn all you can to protect yourself. God bless.

  2. I had missed this post until just now Joyce.
    Even educating ourselves to recognize them is not enough. I’m pretty well educated on the subject and can spot them a mile away, but when they’re in our own family, it becomes a blur of disordered traits and it couldn’t POSSIBLY be psychopathy. right? wrong. I’m starting to understand that my sister is indeed a psychopath. She’s just kind of a dumb one, so you tend to overlook so many of her WTF? statements.

    Regardless of who the psychopath is, our spouse, our parent or our sibling, the reason we can’t see them for what they are is because we don’t want to. We CARE. As the Green River Murderer said, when he was asked what made him different from other people, “It’s that caring thing.”

    You call it malignant hope and you’ve counseled me many times on the subject. But still, I F*!KING CARE. I now know that it is impossible to care and to see clearly at the same time. That is why the psychopaths train themselves not to care at all. Caring colors our perspective. Worse yet, we care because we like caring, not because the people that we care about are deserving of it.

    Obviously it’s going to be difficult to not care about my family members but I have to remember that just because you care for a snake doesn’t mean it won’t bite you. Care from a far and stock some anti-venom, just in case you slip up.

    Great article, Joyce, you said the words I needed to hear right now. Thank you.

  3. Skylar, it IS MORE DIFFICULT to spot the psychopaths (or even the severely dysfunctional folks) in our families. I was usually pretty assertive with non-family members but with “close friends” and blood relatives I had “door mat” on my back. Like you, it took me decades to see that you cannot change these people and that they will hurt you any chance they get.

    I was talking with a friend today who is a survivor of two marriages to psychopaths and we discussed this very subject.

    A couple of days ago a man I had known for over 50 years and and cared a great deal pulled a couple of stunts that made me back totally away from this “friendship” First he invited me and a friend of mine who was visiting from out of state to go on a road trip with him.

    During the drive his driving scared me to death, he was using both hands to “talk” while the car which was going too fast, to weave on the road. I asked him to slow down, then he ignored me. Then I asked again quite forcefully and he started yelling at me that his driving was fine and I wasn’t going to tell him how to drive in HIS car. My friend was in the back seat having a “heart attack.” So when he ignored me again I said very forcefully, “Stop here right now and let me out” He kept on driving and I repeated my demand that he stop and let us out on the side of the road. Finally he turned around and drove back to a church parking lot, got out and let me drive.

    I wish now that I had used my cell phone to have called the police and told them I had been kidnapped.

    A couple of days later he came over to my house and yelled at me that he wanted a gun he had asked my son to repair for him since it had been a month and the gun was not yet repaired. He also had several guns here that he wanted my other son to appraise for him but he demanded the one that he had requested be fixed of a minor problem (for free of course) be returned because we had taken too much time to get it fixed.

    My son wasn’t home at the time and I was not sure where the gun was or which one it was so as he was yelling at me, I told him I would return it as soon as my son came home.

    When my son came home we loaded up all of his guns and took them back to his house then drove back home. I really do not expect to hear from him again, and don’t want to.

    The odd thing is that several folks who know about these two events think I am some kind of meanie for breaking off contact with him. They would say things like “maybe he is under a lot of stress”

    He is quite elderly but does not seem to me to be in any way senile, his memory is good both long and short term. He has been to some extent controlling inn the past, but not to this extent.

    I could list 100 other folks and the “problems” I tried to smooth over when they used me or abused me, and not all of them were psychopath, just selfish or dysfunctional in some way.I know that you and I both have had several psychopaths both in our family and our “friendship” circle. It isn’t only the CARD CARRYING PSYCHOPATHS we need to get out of our lives, but those people who do not respect us or our boundaries.

    For years I had NO boundaries for “close friends” or family members who were dysfunctional or psychopathic. Once I actually CAUGHT a “friend” in the act of stealing from me and I CRIED FOR 3 DAYS because I had “embarrassed her” by catching her stealing. I look back on this episode and laugh now, that I would be so much of an enabler.But the episode had a great benefit for me because it MADE ME THINK about my own dysfunctional habits in enabling these users, allowing them to use and abuse me over and over.

    Learning about the DARK TRIAD of “rescuer-persecutor-victim” and SEEING myself more clearly inn the mirror of my mind allowed me to LEARN TO SET BOUNDARIES. Setting boundaries of how I ALLOW others to treat me, whether or not the are full on psychopaths or just jerks. I don’t need either of these people in my life.

    I treat others with respect and I expect and DEMAND that they treat me with respect as well. I no longer have any trouble walking away from a relationship that however long or close it was has degenerated into lack of respect on their part. Unless of course that the person inn question has genuine remorse and DEMONSTRATES this by a valid apology as well as a change of behavior.

    Both Jesus and St. Paul talked about what to do if a “brother” offends you, you talk to them privately, if that doesn’t work, take witnesses, if that doesn’t work take it to the church and if that doesn’t work then “treat them like a heathen, not even to eat with them.” To me that sounds like NO CONTACT. I figure if it is good enough for Jesus and St. Paul it is a pretty good idea.

    Apologies must show a change in behavior to be valid. I got not even so much as an “I’m sorry” from this man, and in fact, he tried to blame ME for not having the gun fixed on his time table. I had tried to explain that we had crops to tend to and my son was working from can to can’t every day to get irrigation up etc. but he wanted my son to neglect our crops to get his fun fixed IMMEDIATELY. We were simply trying to do him a favor but it was apparently not to his liking. It wasn’t like he had a pressing need and I didn’t come to his aid, he wasn’t out on the freeway with two flat tires and I told him we didn’t have time to come out to rescue him.

    I do not ever want to lose my altruism because people don’t always appreciate what I might do to try to help them, but at the same time, when Jesus healed 10 lepers and only one came back to thank him, Jesus didn’t stop caring or helping others, and I don’t want to stop caring, but at the same time, I don’t have a sign on my back that says “kick me.”

    Losing a person we care about or love because they are psychopathic or dysfunctional HURTS, that is the truth. BUT we can also realize that we don’t have to give a pass for abusive behavior to ANY one. EVER.

    Skylar I know it hurts, but I also know that it is a lesson that you needed to learn. The pain will lessen as time goes on, but do not ever lose the lesson. God bless.

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