If you are in a relationship with a sociopath you risk losing your money, your possessions, your job, your self-esteem, your confidence, your independence and in the occasional case, your life! And the worst thing about it is you may not realize that this is happening until it's too late.
Sociopaths, or psychopaths, can be extremely charming, smooth talkers, witty and very friendly, and often a touch narcissistic. They like to quickly build an intimate relationship with their victims. You can read more about how specifically they do that here.
The initial encounter can be through the recommendation of family or friends, in a work situation, or a chance encounter. It's actually quite common that people dislike or even feel repulsion for sociopaths at the initial encounter. However, they often ignore these sensations because the family member or friend has recommended the person, or they're going to have to work with this person and so on. This, of course, proves to be a mistake, because you cannot give sociopaths the benefit of the doubt.
Once the relationship with a sociopath is underway, typically everything is marvelous. The sociopath is attentive, helpful, friendly and considerate and it seems that the sociopath is a wonderful person, providing just what you need and understanding you in a way that few others do.
Certainly in romantic situations, people feel that they are totally in love. This new person in their life (can be a manipulative male or female!) is perfect for them, and they are blind to everything else.
In business situations, the sociopath seems to be demonstrating exactly the qualities needed in the organization, the ability to make decisions, getting people to do things, motivation, and typically he will be seen to have good relationships with his superiors.
There may be a small group of people around him who are keen to be with him or help in whatever way they can. Different people will have a different kind of relationship with a sociopath in these settings. That's because the sociopath is evaluating every person to see what they have that is of benefit to him or her, for example, approval of this boss, information from a particular secretary, that person to do his work for him, another person to use as a scapegoat, and so on.
In sects the new person feels that this is a marvelous group. Everybody is so friendly and welcoming, and the leader seems to be intelligent and caring and really willing to help, or educate the students, or save the souls of his congregation. They are fooled into thinking that they will get what they are seeking by having a relationship with a sociopath!
In each case the sociopath seems to be providing exactly what is necessary in the situation. This is because they are experts in assessing such things as people's needs, wants, weaknesses and strengths. He or she will then provide those needs and wants until the victim is convinced that the sociopath is a good person.
So if you find that a friendship is moving forward very quickly indeed, and the other person seems perfect, stop and check that you are not in a relationship with a sociopath!
And at some point there is a change in the relationship with the sociopath. A man has lent money to his girlfriend and she disappears. Shortly after getting married, or getting pregnant, her husband starts to drink more and becomes abusive.
The workplace psychopath starts to miss deadlines, not turn up for work, abuse others and starts to generally take liberties.
The cult leader no longer spends so much time with those people who have been indoctrinated. They get only so much time as is necessary to keep them engaged. In fact, spending time with him or her becomes a privilege. And if there is a sexual relationship (which, in the context of mind control, is sexual abuse) this typically changes as well. It may stop if the leader has new victims, or it may become very cold, devoid of emotion on the part of the leader, automatic you could say. Because of the nature of mind control, the victims are unable to make the decision to discontinue the relationship with a sociopath, even when they feel they are just being used.
Many of the people around psychopaths have come to believe that they are nice people. Therefore the initial bad behavior is explained away or justified. After all, there must be a good reason for it, right?
Two situations can arise here. One is where the person captured believes this person is wonderful and his or her friends warn them against the psychopath but they cannot see it. The other is where the manipulated person tries to tell their friends of the abuse they are suffering but their friends can't believe it because the person seems so nice to them!
But then the nastiness, the abuse and the dominating behavior persists.
By this time, for the person in an intimate relationship with a sociopath, it's too late. They have been captured by the sociopath and tolerate more and more abuse. The difficulty is that they have come to rely on the sociopath to make decisions, to know how they are and sometimes even who they are. They are completely dependent on the sociopath.
This explains why some men and women will tolerate 10, 15 or 20 years of abuse in a marriage. The sociopath understands how to use mind control techniques to manipulate and dominate others. And this is basically what they want, power over others.
For the psychopath in the workplace this is the whole game. To rise through the ranks to positions of power and control. In fact we are seeing more and more articles written today in newspapers and blogs about how the corporate psychopath is responsible for much of the risk-taking that has led to the current financial crisis.
When the office psychopath has the level of control that he or she wants, then they move into high gear. They have their competition fired. They do this by having gained the confidence of the bosses and then begin to create problems for the competition, and lying about them. They use and abuse expense accounts, steal money, manipulate their way into positions of greater power and generally do what they want.
Cult leaders lead their victims deeper and deeper into their doctrine exploiting them in whatever way they can. The victims may end up using their skills and expertise working for the cult for free. They may donate their wealth, their possessions, their house to the 'cause'. Their time and energy is spent pursuing the two basic objectives of any cult, member recruitment and the collection of funds. They may be sexually abused by the leadership or even prostituted out under the guise of saving mankind, bringing more people to God and so on.
In some cults, suicide is the end result for the group. Suicide bombers have been manipulated into taking other people's lives as well. And for those caught in a romantic relationship with the sociopath, sometimes a sociopath just kills the family.
While there are lots of therapy cults, some therapists are sociopaths and they subject their clients to abuse in therapy.
Remember, first impressions count and when a person enters into a relationship with a sociopath believing they are good people (remember this is set up deliberately by the sociopath), this becomes very difficult to change later on. It can be very difficult for somebody to accept that the person that they like and trust, or even love, is deliberately doing them harm. They know that they would not, or could not, deliberately do harm to those they love, so they can't understand that somebody would be doing it to them. They may even refuse to accept that they are in a relationship with a sociopath.
The other thing that's important for somebody who may be in a relationship with a sociopath, is that people don't expect other people to be evil. Unless you have been caught by a psychopath, you are not on the lookout for evil.
Typically, we like to see the good in others. And sociopaths will play on this. Even when they have been caught out in doing wrong, they can appear very genuine in saying sorry and demonstrating remorse. But, of course, it's all an act. They have no conscience and do not care about the consequences.
Sociopaths often spend a good deal of time creating reputations for themselves that allows them to continue manipulating and abusing people. When they are exposed they may simply disappear to look for other victims.
If they have a lot invested in where they are, they will fight to maintain their power. And they will be nasty about it. They will lie, cheat, blackmail, threaten legal actions and even use the courts to protect their reputation.
And often they will make themselves out to be the victims!
A common occurrence is to blame the people exposing them of doing the very thing that they themselves are doing. For example, the sociopaths will say that they are not manipulating others, their accusers are manipulating the evidence.
And they will typically attack the person/s accusing them, rather than deal with what the accusers are saying.
If you think you might be in a relationship with a sociopath, read more about the signs of someone being manipulative, dealing with a sociopath, what happens in a marriage to a sociopath or how to divorce a sociopath.
Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?
If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
You have the theory but how do you actually apply it? This book spells it out...
Do you think that you might be in an abusive relationship? Are you realizing that the group you are in may be a cult?
Do you think you are being taken advantage of emotionally, physically, sexually or financially in your relationship? Do you want to leave but you can't seem to get away?