The Unexamined Victim
Sandra L. Brown, M.A.
We are all aware of one fact—countless hours and millions of dollars have been spent researching the psychopath. This research has produced hundreds of books, each trying to explain the psyche of this mysterious and very disordered person. Indeed, there has never been a lack of interest in researching or writing about the fascinating psychopath.
No matter how you cut it, it’s always about the psychopaths! Whether they are cultivating intense attention from others, milking a woman’s admiration, or someone is trying to heal from their extraordinary damage, the focus is always on the psychopath—who he is and what he’s done.
So many victims of psychopaths have flown under the radar of understanding and treatment. Very little attention has been paid to those women whose relationships were or are, unfortunately, with psychopathic men. No wonder they have gone unnoticed—psychopathy is the part of psychology that few therapists and doctors want to deal with. This is the field of psychology relegated to the “incurables.” These are the incurables whose personalities, unfortunately, didn’t form correctly in childhood. Disordered development has left them emotionally mangled with a problem likely to make the lives of those around them miserable.
I have worked over twenty years as a counselor dealing with personality-disordered men and women. Over the decades of working with these relentless disorders, I came to a new appreciation for the depth of permanent devastation that these disorders bring not only to the person who has them, but also to everyone in his or her life; that includes family members, partners, friends, bosses, children, and even therapists. I quickly figured out that this type of pathology really is a wasteland, the progress the disordered person makes is measured in millimeters while the devastation he or she leaves is measured in miles.
So, I shifted my practice from working with personality disordered people to working with their families and trying to initiate Public Psychopathy Education for the general public. Years later, I wrote the book How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved, which focused on helping non-professionals learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of pathological disorders. It was after How to Spot a Dangerous Man was released that women began writing and requesting phone counseling. During these sessions I realized the “dangerous man” experiences they were trying to heal from were largely due to two types of pathologically disordered men: Narcissists and Psychopaths. And no wonder! On a scale of 1-10, these two pathological disorders rate #2 and #1 in terms of “devastation to others.”
As I worked with these women I noticed that they all were remarkably similar in personality traits. The stories of their relationship dynamics were consistent and even the aftermath of their symptoms was identical! Finding nothing written about women who love psychopaths, I wondered if there was something to these “coincidences” of similarity among them. I wanted answers to these questions:
1. Do the women who love psychopaths share a common “profile”?
2. Are there risk factors in women’s lives that contributed to them having relationships with psychopaths?
3. Are all the relationship dynamics with psychopaths the same?
4. Is there a general and predictable aftermath of symptoms when the relationship ends?
5. Can we use this information to develop Public Psychopathy Education for all people?
Next, I began to run ads asking for women to contact me with their stories. The flood I received showed me that the disorders of sociopathy, narcissism, and psychopathy are not that unusual. From one of the ads I wrote, Dr. Liane J. Leedom, M.D. contacted me. Dr. Leedom is a female psychiatrist who had her own personal experience with a psychopath whom she married and who viciously destroyed her life.
Working together, she and I developed the Women Who Love Psychopaths research survey which has now been given to over 75 women worldwide. This intensive survey collected data and stories about women’s histories, symptoms, and temperament traits. This book is the result of that study, what we have learned about the women, the unique relationship dynamics, and the symptoms that result from the aftermath of a relationship with a psychopath.
So what will this book teach you?
- Learn about the role of intense attachments, fear, and sex in relationships with psychopaths.
- Answer the age-old question—do psychopaths have attachment and bonding? The answer is not what you think!
- Understand those “crazy-making” relationship dynamics that are only seen in pathological love relationships.
- Is there really “something” behind how a psychopath lures? And what about that “hypnotic stare” he uses that melts and freezes at the same time?
- Learn the fascinating truth about how a woman’s personality strengths and weaknesses may be a great match for the strengths and weaknesses of a psychopath.
It is our hope that this book will help the psychopath’s victims understand their unique at-risk status and learn how to safeguard themselves from other predators. Additionally, we hope this book will raise the interest of therapists, counselors, and doctors to work with this underserved population of victims. Most importantly, we hope that this book has begun a process in this country towards Public Psychopathy Education. For twenty years it has been my personal mission to bring to the forefront the plight of dangerousness and its relationship to unchangeable psychopathy. It is only when we change our choices, that we can change our lives.
If you have read this book, please be an Ambassador for Change in your community by teaching girls and women what you learned in this book. Help by disseminating information through a Public Psychopathy Education Project in your community or by running support groups for women leaving pathological relationships. Why not donate this book to your local women’s organization, Domestic Violence Program, Rape Crisis Center, college campus, or any other women’s organization that serves at-risk women? Or, bring a Dangerous Relationship workshop to your community and change one woman at a time. (Contact us for more information!)