Top 7 Take Aways from “Women Who Love Psychopaths”
This book, “Women Who Love Psychopaths” is written by a therapist, and speaks about both the behavior of the psychopath as well as the targets who love them. While the book focuses on female target who are in “love” with male psychopaths, the book applies to either gender and any relationship dynamic. The author goes into great detail about the behavior traits of both and what attracts them to each other–and perhaps more importantly, why targets stay.
Here are my top seven take aways from this book. If you have your own take aways, I’d love to hear them, so please let me know in the comments down below.
1. Understanding the normal motivation for human behavior. Normal motivation drives include: food, comfort, stuff, entertainment, sex, affection, status/power. Narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths have a supercharged drive for these things, and at the core of it is the need for power. (In other words, they are driven by dominance and often use deceit to obtain their wants and needs.)
2. Understanding personality disorders. A personality disorder is a pervasive and persistant way that a person thinks, feels, behaves, and relates to the world. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), personality disorders are on the same axis as mental retardation, and what is significant about this is that these traits are relatively fixed. We would never expect a person with mental retardation to be different, it’s the same as a personality disordered person—this is especially the case for those who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or Antisocial Personality Disorder (aka sociopaths and psychopaths).
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, and it’s important to understand pathologically problematic behavior as a combination of personality and brain chemistry. The only recourse is swift and severe punishment, not rehabilitation as these people are incredibly treatment resistant. Just because a psychopath goes to therapy, anger management, or a batter’s intervention course doesn’t mean they’ve changed, and generally what it does mean is that the target has a misplaced sense of false hope that they’ve changed.
Psychopathy is often a weaving of factors including biological, neurological, brain malformations, chemical disruptions, brain circuitry disruptions, uncompleted childhood development tasks, and often abuse and neglect. All of these factors form a seriously disordered framework of pathology.
It’s a nature and nurture disorder, which leaves the psychopath with 3 inabilities:
- The inability to grow to any authentic emotional or spiritual depth.
- The inability to sustain positive change.
- The inability to develop insight about how their negative behavior affects others.
A big part of recovery from a psychopath is in trying to figure out what on earth happened, how this dangerous person was able to come across as friendly as a purring cat, only to have ripped us to shreds. This behavior isn’t taught, and we can’t spot what we aren’t aware of.
Psychopathic behavior is behavior that is:
- Fails to follow laws or social norms
- Unlawful or immoral behavior
- Cons for fun or profit
- Wants it/take it
- Sees it/does it
- Disregard for the safety of others
- Puts others at risk
- Rationalizes stealing and lying
- Lack of remorse
- Pretends to be wonderful, helpful, supportive
3. Understanding psychopathic language. The following compares the language of a normal person to that of a psychopath written as “Normal Person : Psychopath”
Love : Compliance
Trust : Paranoia
Communication : Opportunity
Bonding : Attachment
I need you : I want you
Lying : This is my truth
Stealing : Borrowing
Cheating : Equalizing the playing field
Monogamy : Monogamy in the moment
Future : Right now
Morals : To each their own
Interpretation : How the psychopath sees it
Problems : Any issue others have with the psychopath
Humanity : Suckers
Courage : The absence of fear
Sentimental : Unsafely soft
Faith : Not fact
The language of a psychopath is all about word twisting and comprehension dodging.
A psychopath uses word twisting by:
- Not answering questions
- Answering with something else unreleasted
- Redirecting the question to the target
- Twisting one word into the sentence into a fight
- Referencing other discussions
- Using phrases that distract the target so she has to ask him for clarification thus getting off topic
- Using gaslighting to warp reality
- Projecting his behavior onto her
- Going into long stories to deflect original discussions
- Using a word to express an idea but the normal use of the word expresses something else
4. Understanding how psychopathic communication makes a person feel. Psychopathic communication is crazymaking communication. It causes the target to question their communication skills, their ability to express themselves, and eventually their sanity. This triangle shifts from the target being the one who liberates or torments him while he is the wounded one, or she is wounded and he plays the role of liberator or tormenter. The same argument over the same topic only moments or days later could result in different roles by each of them. Nowhere else in her life does she have communication like this, it’s only with them. With a psychopath, communication is reduced to a very juvenile emotional age. They bring to this crazy making communication process other dysfunctional and aggravating behavior which contribute to communication problems such as:
- Splitting one person against the other
- Knows it all so she can’t contribute any new info
- Juvenile decision making skills
- Changing subjects
- Meaning/language differences
- Immature emotional age
- Doesn’t take responsibility for his behavior/choices
- Abandonment issues and acts like a victim
- Projecting his behavior onto others
There is no way to effectively communicate with a psychopath.
5. Understanding pathological behavior.
- Easily bored
- Thrill seeking
- Frequent lying
- Conning for fun
- Conning for profit
- Lacks guilt
- Lacks remorse
- Lacks empathy
- Irresponsible with money
- Impulsive behavior
- Constantly on phone
- Constantly on the internet
- Always upbeat or angry
- Poor sleep
- Disrespects authority
- Disappears for hours or days without explanation
- No realistic life goals
- Sexually unfaithful
- Irresponsible parent
- Uses friends, family, or lovers for money
- Childhood behavior problems
- Reckless disregard for safety and others
- Bragged about prior acts of aggression
- Compulsive shopping/spending
- Verbally abusive
- Physically abusive
- Knows organized crime figures (or associates with other people with low to no morals)
- Is a name dropper
- Loves competition but is a poor loser
- Has fantasies of doing something great or being famous and acts as if these fantasies have already come true
- Has little interest in what others think or feel unless they want something from them
- Provokes fights
- Is firmly convinced that they are smarter or better than others
- Regards anything short of worship to be rejection
- Becomes irritates when others don’t automatically do what they want them to do, even if they have good reasons.
6. Understanding why targets get involved with psychopaths. Many targets get involved with a psychopath because they either: are lonely, enjoy the excitement (and mistake the intensity for intimacy), are caught up in their charm. Many targets stay with psychopaths because they often think the psychopath can change, given enough love, understanding, time, therapy, religion, or rehab. The target has a high investment in keeping the relationship together, and often feels that leaving is not an option—even though they are being dragged through hell. Because the target isn’t aware of what a pathological personality looks like, they hold onto hope that the psychopath will change (and odds are the psychopath is continuing to tell them everything they want to hear in order to feed their fantasy of them changing).
The psychopath uses positive and negative reinforcement to control their targets. The positive rewards are affection, verbal reinforcement, financial rewards such as gifts or trips, to establish dominance and power over their target. They use negative reinforcement such as withdrawal of attention, pouting or raging, or aloofness when the target doesn’t please them.
When the target pleases the psychopath, they gets the best of the psychopath’s charm, when the target displeases the psychopath she/he gets rage, threats or implied abandonment that the psychopath will leave, or anything else the psychopath can think of to tap into the target’s relationship investment.
The target then molds themselves to maximize rewards and to avoid behaviors that set the psychopath off.
Targets who are sentimental (and who are in denial and who want to keep the relationship going) focus on all the psychopaths acts of kindness and gloss over all the bad times.
7. Understanding our tolerance level for destructive behavior. A person doesn’t need to be diagnosed NPD or ASPD, or even have such extreme behavior that they would qualify for a personality disorder.
Just because a person may have a few traits of NPD, or ASPD doesn’t make them less destructive. People need to ask themselves, why am I dating someone with even a few of these traits?
On a personal note…
As many of you guys know, I have had several narcissists/psychopaths in my life. I got tangled up with (and stayed in) each of these relationships for different reasons. The main reason I kept getting tangled up with them was that I was lonely–and didn’t realize it. They were so charming and charasmatic, and made me feel so important and loved. In every situation, I was also very naive and didn’t realize that hurtful people could come across as so caring and charming, and this may sound strange, but it didn’t dawn on me that I could (or should) leave. I had the mindset that commitment or friendship was forever, and that I needed to make things work. I now understand that this isn’t healthy, and that it take two people to make something work, and a relationship of any kind will NOT work with a person who is deceitful and driven by dominance. I am very particular about who I let into my inner circle these days, and am quick to get out anyone that I feel is even remotely toxic to me. Never again will I allow myself to be dragged through hell or even mistreated by a “friend” or a boyfriend. Realizing that I now know how to keep myself safe, and that I can trust myself to do so, I feel a lot more comfortable around other people.
The next book club book…
The next book club book that we will be reading is: “Necessary Endings” by Henry Cloud. If you’d like to see a list of books we are planning on reading, please click here. If you’d like to participate in a discussion about this book (or any other future book club book), we do a book club live stream the last Thursday of every month at 6:30pm EST on my YouTube channel, “Thrive After Abuse.”
My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.
Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.
It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.