on October 6, 2010
I am an educated professional woman who owns my own business. I have had a successful career and social life. Until I got involved with a psychopath. What seemed like the perfect man, in reality, turned out to be a monster. He could be incredibly cruel one minute, and then loving the next. My whole world was turned upside down as this man would pull me in one direction and then another. I was a confused mess. When I read this book, I realized what I was dealing with. I realized that no amount of "therapy" would ever help our relationship and that a psychopath cannot change who he is. This book pulled me back from the brink of disaster and I highly recommend it to anyone involved in a toxic relationship. These people are truly dangerous, and they can be lurking under the radar almost anywhere.
on October 6, 2010
As a mental health professional and the victim/survivor of 2 relationships with psychopaths (one of whom is a presentable, handsome and seemingly highly moral psychiatrist - so please have no illusions about how these men may appear) I have both read prolifically on the subject of cluster b personality disorders and their traumatic impact and experienced it first hand.
It is refreshing to read a well researched book by a professional expert in this very specialist field. This is in no way intended to trivualise the vital contributions made by writers who are experts by experience, but a research based book of this kind is both welcome and crucial, in order for the subject to be taken more seriously.
That the onus is on the women themselves is very important - it is so easy in this situation to focus on your ex's pathology 'how can a human not have a conscience?!' To look at ourselves and how the best parts of ourselves (what Brown refers to as a victims 'super traits') become twisted and broken down by in essence a 'hungry' psychopath is both validating and empowering. As Brown states psychopaths are the most dangerous men on the planet. They present as the opposite of who they are and profile a partner to hook you in very deeply. Psychopathy makes good movies but for many of us, their fallout is or has been severe real life consequences, including the killing of hope- this should be something that everybody cares about.
It would have been interesting to have heard a word about male victims too - though likely to be fewer they do ofcourse exist and may find seeking understanding and sollace even more difficult.
Even if you are not the victim - believe me - you don't want to be (none of us did/do contrary to popular myth...) and neither do you want to be someone who colludes with psychopathic/narcissistic abuse by silencing/ignoring it in your daughter/ co-worker/sister/friend who may all be possible prey. The Psychopath moves smoothly, with eyes that might seem soft for a while... arm yourself and others with life saving knowledge.
on November 15, 2010
Wouldn't you like to be able to recognize scam artists before you got cheated out of your life savings? Wouldn't you want to identify Losers before you become romantically involved with them? They say that one learns more from experience than from books, but that's not necessarily the case. Bad experiences can cause so much financial and emotional devastation that recovering from them becomes very difficult: for some, even impossible. How many times have you run across women who date the same kind of bad men, without learning anything from their experiences except heartache? Eventually, many women settle for bad men, believing that all men are like that or that they somehow deserve the mistreatment. Learning to recognize dangerous individuals can spare us and our loved ones years of hardship. In fact, personal experience and psychological information can work together. Books that identify the characteristics of dangerous individuals can help us recognize red flags and escape real-life predatory relationships early on, with far less damage to our wallets and our lives.
One of the most helpful books in this genre is Dr. Sandra L. Brown`s newest edition of Women Who Love Psychopaths: Insde the Relationship of Inevitable Harm with Psychopaths, Sociopaths and Narcissists (Mask Publishing, 2009). This is a long title for a book that gets straight point in explaining clearly, for a general audience, the characteristics of dangerous individuals. Dr. Brown explains that dangerous men (and women) suffer from unfixable personality disorders: psychopathy and narcissism in particular. Such individuals have constitutive emotional deficiencies. They can't form meaningful bonds with others. Although they don't bond emotionally, they do attach to others. Just as parasites latch on to healthy bodies, so psychopaths latch on to decent human beings to suck the life out of them. If they would be easy to detect, most of us would avoid these social parasites like the plague. Unfortunately, however, psychopaths are social chameleons who can disguise their evil natures. They come across as exceptionally charming, friendly, humorous, kind, entertaining and very romantic. Initially, they appear to be perfect romantic partners. Their glibness and charm, as well as their propensity for deception and disguise, often masks their malicious intent. Psychopaths have no conscience, are impulsive and reward-driven and get bored easily. For such individuals, cheating, lying and hurting others is a pleasurable game: a form of entertainment.
We often read about psychopaths in the news. Their lack of conscience enables them to commit horrible crimes, including rape, pedophilia and murder. Most psychopaths, however, aren't hardened criminals. They're swindlers and love frauds, temporarily attaching to decent human beings to milk them of money, shelter and affection: sometimes, to destroy them. For all practical purposes, how psychopaths became disordered isn't as important to their victims as the fact that they can't significantly improve their behavior. Whether they're evil by nature, nurture, or a combination of both, they will still cheat on you, lie to you, use you, and perhaps even steal your money along with your heart. When involved with a psychopath, Dr. Brown emphasizes, there's nothing you can do to change him or his disorder. The one thing you can-and should do-is save yourself.
Because psychopaths cause so much harm to society, there are numerous clinical studies of their personality disorder. In addition, the true crime shelves of bookstores are packed with salacious accounts of their misdeeds. But there are practically no comparable studies of their tens of millions of victims. Just do the math. Psychologists estimate that between 1 and 4 percent of the population is psychopathic. This adds up to several million psychopaths in this country alone. Because psychopaths are highly promiscuous and form dozens of relationships, a single psychopath can damage the lives of dozens of women. That's several million persons hurt, sometimes beyond repair, by the malicious actions of these disordered individuals. In the literature on psychopathy, the victims are often the forgotten part of the equation: even though they outnumber by far the psychopaths themselves. Women Who Love Psychopaths is the most comprehensive study I know of about the female victims, from their own perspective. This book reveals the whole picture: the psychopaths and their hosts.
Dr. Brown focuses her clinical study on a few dozen women who depict in great detail their horrific experiences with psychopaths. But it's important to note that these women could be any of us. They weren't particularly weak, or gullible, or uneducated individuals. On the contrary: this book reveals that the women who fall in love with psychopaths tend to be trusting, accomplished, devoted persons with good characters and high emotional investment in their romantic relationships. Psychopaths prefer to test their strength against strong and moral women, not against those they consider weak or already corrupt. These women became involved with psychopaths because they were initially fooled by their "mask of sanity": the good image that any psychopath projects to those whom he wants to seduce and use. They fell prey to the ruse not because they were especially naive, but because very little prepares us in life for the kind of person who systematically deceives, uses, exploits and harms others, just for the fun of it and with malice. Statistically, psychopaths are relatively common. But psychologically they're highly abnormal. We will not be able to identify them or comprehend their malicious motives if our frame of reference is relatively normal human beings. To identify psychopaths and protect ourselves against them, we need to become acquainted with the basics of abnormal psychology.
Moreover, it's not easy to see through a psychopath's mask of sanity before getting burned. This is especially true when the psychopaths themselves are educated, attractive and employed in well-respected professions-as teachers, professors, lawyers, doctors, counselors, therapists or businessmen-which is often the case. Without a basic understanding of personality disorders and awareness of our own vulnerabilities to dangerous individuals, most of us couldn't spot or defend ourselves against these wolves in sheep's clothing. This is exactly the invaluable information that Dr. Brown's book offers us.
Women Who Love Psychopaths focuses on psychopathy as a relationship between psychopaths and their chosen targets. Looking at psychopaths in isolation is not enough. It doesn't reveal how they latch on to normal individuals; how they fool us. Without finding numerous willing partners-to dupe, mistreat and use-a psychopath ceases to function. To grasp the danger posed by psychopathic individuals, we therefore need to understand both sides of the coin: the personality traits of the psychopaths themselves as well as our own potential vulnerabilities to psychopathic seduction. Women Who Love Psychopaths reveals this more complete picture. Think about how many self-defense classes are taught in this country. Sadly, there's no equivalent for psychological defense. This must-read book is about emotional self-defense, which should be our first line of protection against social predators.
Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness
on October 10, 2010
I had just broken up with my boyfriend when a friend recommended this book to me. I read it in less than two weeks. I was absolutely amazed at how accurately it portrayed my relationship with my ex-boyfriend!!! I mean it made my spine shiver how she details their evil and their exact behavior patterns, I mean it was as if she was a fly on the wall taking notes!
I have learned so much from this book and realize now why I became a victim. Now in therapy, I am working on the root cause of why I became prey to this emotional vampire, and why I will NEVER ever allow another man like this into my life again.
The destruction caused by these men in your life is so detailed by Sandra, and so accurate! How she describes cognitive dissonance, intrusive thoughts, reactive anger, the evil, the mind games... I never knew such evil existed on the face of something so beautiful. I remember calling him and angel when we were dating... I completely fell for him, hook line an sinker... They really make you feel like they love you, like they are connected, emotionally available... everything you need/want in a man... and then as soon as they realize they've got you hooked, you become an emotional, mental, spiritual target for destruction. They find your button and the push it... it's a horrid experience I wouldn't wish on any woman. At heart they are mysogynists!
I'm sorry to say, Sandra is pinpoint accurate in how they attach, but cannot connect emotionally at all. My ex was onto his next victim within two months after our two year relationship!! Which he did with me and with his ex wife as well. Good thing I got to sit down with his ex and have some heart to hear conversations, wherein I learned that we both had the same horrific experience with him. We seem to have been able to give each other what we would never get from him, validation and closure. All the horrible behaviors are outlined in detail in the book. They truly are Emotional Vampires and they truly are something much different than they appear to be. Do not be fooled ladies, they come in beautifully wrapped packages... AND SO DOES SATAN!
I recommend this book to all women, first and foremost, knowledge is power, arm yourself with the truth, and Sandra's book is full of truth. I know, I lived it, I learned the hard way, these men do exist and they are extremely dangerous. And what's even more scary than that, their friends have NO IDEA that they are psychopaths that prey on women. So they enable their behavior to continue. Why? Because they never show their truth self to them, ever. They lie about the women to their friends, claim victim status, blame the woman for everything and they never own responsbility for what they do or how their behavior affects others. They just don't care, despite how they make themselves appear to their friends and family, they are not these innocent victims of "a broken picker" as my ex used to say. They are the problem, and they always will be, they leave nothing but destruction in their wake. They are an evil this world could do without.
on July 17, 2008
Based off a case study of seventy-five women, Women Who Love Psychopaths is Sandra Brown's latest tome dealing with dangerous men, and how to spot them before they can seriously cause damage. Liane Leedom also contributed, however her view of psychopathy is something more along the lines of the DSM-IV category, which anyone who studies the subject know is grossly misleading and quite inaccurate. The book offers a look inside the minds of psychopaths (which is the part I recommend you skip), as well as the minds and emotional traits of the women that tend to be their victims. It also gives an extremely details look at the 'bonding' process these women go through, how their psychopaths were able to hook them and keep them once their pathological behavior starts to rear its ugly head.
My biggest complaint about the book are its contributions by Liane Leedom. For example, on page 19 we're told, "ADHD is often a precursor to psychopathy." which simply isn't true. No reference is cited nor have I seen this in the classic literature (Hare, Cleckley, etc.) There was also a tendency to quote Wikipedia as if it's a reliable source. If I've learned anything about Wikipedia is that it's good for something, mundane things, like the temperature of the sun or a superficial look at history or definitions, but when it comes to sensitive topics, like the Israel-Palestinian bit, Iran, or psychopathy that the information is likely to be skewed in favor of the mainstream. If you want a good example contrast these two entries on the topic: [...] and [...] That latter one has good case studies of individual nut jobs too if you're interested.
What I really like about WWLP is that it gives us a good look at the women (and by extension anyone) who has a tendency to fall for psychopathic personalities and get ensnared in their pathological machinations. It gives us a plethora of red flags to look for in terms of their behavior, which can be useful in identifying pathological personalities at home, at work, or in our social life.
Some choice quotes on the matter:
"Interestingly, this is the only major trait that the psychopath's woman shares with the psycho¬path--the issue of extraversion and excitement seeking. This is the attraction, the hook-up factor, and the issue upon which their dating relationship was based, the exciting extraverted life they both want to live! If you wondered what the first part of their attraction to each other was: here it is! But there is also more to what attracted her and kept them together."
"As wonderful as competitiveness is in regular life, her competitiveness however, is a downfall in the relationship with the psychopath. This is because as the relationship begins to become patho¬logically-driven and his crazy-making increases instead of running for the hills she is likely to stay and battle it out."
"Women who love psychopaths tested very high in relationship investment and positive sociability. These are the kinds of women psychopaths like to target. The psychopath uses positive rewards to establish his patterns of power, control, and dominance in a woman's life."
"If a woman is ending a previous relationship in which she didn't get much affection, hooking up with a psychopath can feel like she has hit the 'Affection Lotto!' At least in the beginning many psychopaths know that to give affection is to increase her sense of attachment, and her corresponding loyalty. Psychopaths see affection as a way of exerting power and dominance over both the relationship and the emotions of their partners"
"These cooperation traits are her drawing card to a psychopath. Her over-flowing empathy, tolerance, friendliness, compassion, supportiveness and her moral prin¬ciples are what balance the lopsided scales of the relationship with him, since he lacks these quali¬ties. This delicate balance helps to camouflage the glaring gaps of the character traits between them. Her cooperativeness helps to smooth out the character he doesn't have and makes the relationship seem more normal. We think that very high cooperativeness is the most significant reason these specific women were targeted. Psychopaths instinctively know that women high in coopera¬tiveness will stay in relationships with them longer."
I could go on, but you get the idea. Friendly, cooperative, empathic, loyal, extraverted, tolerant, well-adjusted women are like a gold-mine, literally, for the psychopath. He'll use her strengths against her in order to keep her right where he wants her, while he drains her bank account, emotional vitality and all of the time their psychological and physiological health suffers as a result.
One of the most interesting traits I discovered during the reading was: "..the women in the survey when given the choice between trusting what the psychopath says he has done/not done/or will do, or trusting what she has caught him actually doing, women who love psychopaths will likely choose the words over the actions."
Now that's pretty scary. We're also given info on how he uses sex as a primer, in order to have her bond with him, chemically:
"Sex kick-starts the premature bonding process. The touching and sexual stimulation seals the love bond. The stimulation of the vagina and cervix during sex causes the release of the hormones prolactin and oxytocin. These hormones travel to the bonding centers of the brain and produce an emotional and hormonal attachment to the man. The importance of these hormones in female attachment is these are the exact hormones produced in pregnancy and nursing. They are responsible for a woman's ability to bond to babies! The more sex she has with the psychopath, the more these attachment hormones are released, and the more bonded she feels to the psychopath. This isn't merely the cuddling of love making. This is a biochemical process occurring in her body and brain increasing her sense of attachment...but tragically, to a psychopath! These are the hormones of motherhood attachment. Just like motherly love is unconditional, a sexual bond is also unconditional. She will find out just what it will cost her to have this intense unconditional attachment and love bond to a psychopath."
Psychopaths also instinctively know how to induce trance-like states in normal people:
"Trance produces perceptual biases. That means if the psychopath is telling her wonderful things and she is euphoric with him, she tends to associate wonderful and euphoric things with the memory of him...even after he's turned into a monster. While in trance, a woman tends to "cement" what she felt or learned in that state. That's why it's so difficult for women to believe he's a liar, swindler, or cheater because she learned all the wonderful things about him in trance states that have been "cemented" in her memory."
It's a chilling read. Later the book has discussions of what the women felt while their were with their psychopath, and how it has affected their lives once they've managed to break away from them. Most interestingly we are given a step by step explanation of the relationship as it progresses from the initial meet and attraction, subsequent bonding and infatuation to the eventual downward spiral into emotional manipulation, psychological (sometimes physical and sexual) abuse, and financial loss.
Overall Women Who Love Psychopaths is a great book, solely for it's look into pathological "love" relationships, how they get started, their downward trend, and the overall affects on the lives of the non-pathological partner. The stories are real, visceral, and sad and should serve to educate all of us on the warning signs, before we too before another victim.
on October 14, 2010
This book has been a life-saver for me. I am a physician currently in a high-conflict divorce from a psychopath, and had never encountered such pure evil in my life, and never really believed that such people existed. Sandra's wisdom has been so valuable, teaching me to learn of the importance of listening to my own gut reactions, my "red flags", that were trying to save me from what turned out to be the very worst decision of my life. I too have now done extensive research into the subject of psychopathy, and in fact attended one of Sandra's retreats for the victims of the aftermath of psychopaths. That retreat was a turning point for me and my recovery. Sandra's book is concise and extremely readable. She is organized and is a leading expert in her field. I believe every woman should read this book, and hand it down to every daughter. No one is immune. Up to four percent of the population truly has no conscience, and virtually anyone can be their target....
on July 12, 2008
Wish I could give it a zillion starts. Learn how your greatest strength in normal circumstances become your greatest weakness when dealing with people as pathologically damaged as psychopaths. The authors took research surveys from 75 women and came up with a victim profile that is spot on. There are quotes from victims as well as great advice on how to spot the warning signs and run run run if you encounter a psychopath.
Women who love psychopaths is a concise easy read too. Even if you haven't experienced the pain of having loved a psychopath it should be read by every woman, and man for that matter. There are also female psychopaths after all. Which brings me to the only issue I have with the book-it's written for women. When the title is considered it isn't really an issue but I still think it is good advice for anyone who may fall in love with a psychopath, regardless of the gender of the victim or the aggressor. It's fantastic research by the authors. Get a copy for someone you care about, especially if the person is looking for love. While at it, get a copy of Sandra Brown's other book: how to spot a dangerous man before you get involved. Both are necessary reading.
on June 13, 2011
I first heard about this book on a website called LoveFraud.com. Having just come out of an extremely toxic relationship with a full blown psychopath, I was reeling from PTSD, cognitive dissonance, intrusive and obsessive thoughts, severe anxiety and major situational depression. This book really hit home for me and I've underlined nearly every sentence in the book. I have read it over and over again to help to dissipate the aftermath symptoms I still experience, six months out, though not nearly what they were initially.
What is most astounding about this book and Sandra's perceptions, is not only how accurate it is, but how she captures the persona and maliciousness of the psychopath in a way that other books I've read thus far, have not. Perhaps it had me floored because of the concept of evil intent, INEVITABLE harm, that the psychopath has as his overall intention in a relationship. It was the first time it had really been spelled out so simply. On page 40 of the book, the following three sentences brought understanding to me in what are the psychopaths motives: "His insatiable need for power and dominance is so non-stop, that it feels unquenchable to her. Psychopaths hurt people because power through victimization is much more satisfying to them. They are emotionally rewarded by the harm they cause."
It was those three sentences that shed tremendous light on an extremely dark, evil and deeply saddening time, not only the time shared with the psychopath, but with the aftermath symptoms in which I was suffering so.
Sandra's continued efforts at educating the public about psychopathy can never be understated. This book should be given to therapists everywhere and education provided to those who have victims of psychopaths in their care.
It is VERY difficult to understand how a human being would, and in fact does, DESIRE to hurt others for pleasure. This book has also helped me tremendously in keeping to no contact, reminding myself that if my ex boyfriend attempts contact again (and he has), what his motives are. It's very easy to keep No Contact and adhere to it when understanding that ANY contact from a psychopath again is an invitation to join with him in the hell he lives and the pain he wishes to cause. It would be self sabotage with all I've learned from this book. Once you become aware of the psychopaths motives, there is truly no going back.
Sandra, thank you. I appreciate you as one of many who are making major contributions to victims and to society in general, about one of the most dangerous human beings alive.
on November 16, 2010
I first read "How to Spot a Dangerous Man" which profoundly impacted me and dramatically jump-started my healing after leaving the sick, emotionally abusive narcisstic psychopath I was married to. But it was "Women Who Love Psychopaths" that really provided the knowledge and insight I needed to understand how I, an educated professional with a graduate degree and rewarding career, could end up in such a sick, destructive relationship. And even think I was in love. It helped me understand why I was attracted to him, why I stayed, what personality traits I possess that allowed me to become such easy prey, what happened to me, who I had become, and where I could find myself again. Sandra Brown systematically explains the physiological factors, contributions of neuroscience, genetic influence, psychological theory, and personality traits that all contribute to a pathological love relationship. She presents the information in a straight-forward, no-nonsense manner. But for the women who have lived in these relationships, it is both gut wrenching and affirming. It was such an accurate picture of the insanity that it made me sick as I read it and relived it in my mind (yet again), but yet knowing that other women have experienced it and that I am not alone, was somehow comforting. My greatest wish is that more therapists would read this body of work and truly understand this kind of twisted relationship.
on November 1, 2010
If you feel like you're losing your own grip on reality, take a good, hard look at the person whom you're closest to. Even though you sense that something is terribly "off" about a person/relationship, the insidious mayhem that psychopaths cause might be difficult to pinpoint. Their ability to subtly provoke twisted mind-games allows them to weave illogical loops of madness around unsuspecting and vulnerable victims. Essentially, they make you feel as though you're the one who is crazy! The mere fact that such hollow shells of human beings exist is disturbing, but must be acknowledged and dealt with accordingly.