Teasing truth out of communications with psychopaths

From “Investigating Psychopaths” from Psychopathyawareness via the Psychopathic Times:

“Since psychopaths are pathological liars and their every interaction with others is self-serving and strategic, even seasoned investigators and forensic psychologists have great difficulty dealing with them. Basically, they’re always faced with the liar’s paradox yet still need to get useful and true information from them.

Katherine Ramsland (from trutv.com) wrote an excellent article about how investigators deal with the inevitable obstacles and difficulties they encounter when attempting to retrieve true information from psychopaths about their crimes. I’m pasting part of her article below:

“It’s not easy to know when to trust someone who has already exploited trust as a route to torture, rape and murder. Psychopathic killers view their victims as objects, useful only as pawns in their own personal game, and they thus have this advantage: they feel no remorse. They’re callous, manipulative and resistant to therapy, and when they choose to communicate, they have their own agendas, formed in self-interest and calculation. What we may accept as a “confession,” they may view as bait. Their motives take shape within a framework that has no equivalent in the normal world. That’s why we can’t just accept what they say at face value.

. . .  While psychopaths appear to use the same language as normal individuals, they have their own inner logic. They calculate the world around them in terms of self-gain. They are society’s vampires. They may be intoxicated rather than repulsed by the idea of targeting humans and picking them off, because it makes them feel powerful. Their agendas have no analogues in the normal world. That means developing a careful mode of communication. In this person’s perception, almost any response could be the “wrong” one.””  https://psychopathyawareness.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/investigating-psychopaths/

From “Damaged” by Malcolm Gladwell:

[Dorothy Otnow Lewis:]  “The day before [Ted Bundy] was executed, he asked me to turn off the tape recorder. He said he wanted to tell me things that he didn’t want recorded, so I didn’t record them. It was very confidential.” To this day, Lewis has never told anyone what Bundy said. There is something almost admirable about this. But there is also something strange about extending the physician-patient privilege to a killer like Bundy-about turning the murderer so completely into a patient. It is not that the premise is false, that murderers can’t also be patients. It’s just that once you make that leap-once you turn the criminal into an object of medical scrutiny-the crime itself inevitably becomes pushed aside and normalized. The difference between a crime of evil and a crime of illness is the difference between a sin and a symptom. And symptoms don’t intrude in the relationship between the murderer and the rest of us: they don’t force us to stop and observe the distinctions between right and wrong, between the speakable and the unspeakable, the way sins do. It was at the end of that final conversation that Bundy reached down and kissed Lewis on the cheek. But that was not all that happened. Lewis then reached up, put her arms around him, and kissed him back.  http://gladwell.com/damaged/

Again, “To this day, Lewis has never told anyone what Bundy said.”  This is just downright bizarre.  She doesn’t know that she was being played?  She thinks Ted Bundy was capable of a ‘soul communication”, that deep inside his psyche was a tortured soul wishing to reach out to others?  “Bundy thought I was the only person who didn’t want something from him,” Lewis says.   Really? 

I do quote her approvingly elsewhere, on dissociation (https://pathwhisperer.info/2014/03/19/to-the-de-blasio-administration-i-hereby-volunteer-to-identify-nypd-whiteshirt-psychopaths-gratis/).  I think she has a deep knowledge of the psyche of human beings.  I don’t understand her blindness here, unless it’s simply the special relationship between females and the male psychopath.

She had no idea whatsoever of what was sitting across the table, in her discussions with Mr. Bundy.  Namely, a biological mechanism that could read/sense her emotions, vanities and vulnerabilities, instantaneously calculate a normal human response that would cater to his readings and his manipulative ends, and then mime them.  Actually, in acting terms, psychopathic reactions are a beat off, the readings do take time.  This momentary pause should be noted.

Psychopaths use words as a tool, strategically.  The manipulative use of language is their main lifetool, as fins are to a fish.  Valuable communication is nonverbal.  Borrowing Ramsland’s phrase:  there is no analogue in the normal world to their use of language.  However their strategies are understandable and their communications should be interpreted through that understanding.  It is also important to figure out “how old” the target psychopath is.  That is, how far did they get in their arrested development path (somewhere in latency – 6/7 to puberty, though there are always very, very young traits — none of them for example get the ‘sharing thing’ though many can mime the behavior).  How self referential is the target?  What’s the need to brag?  How arrrogant?  What are the individual’s triggers?  What level of self control?  The more one knows about the individual’s personality the better.  All of this goes into the mix in teasing the truth out of a pathological liar’s communications.

Quote from 180 Rule

From http://180rule.com/psychopaths-are-opportunists/ (bolding added):

“The psychopath’s [defect] may seem a disadvantage, but in a 180 degree maneuver, he uses it as part of a pity ploy, asking people to make exceptions for his disability –and nice people doThey expect gratitude but they will get the opposite.  He will use this favor, that you did for him, to slide into your circle of trust. From there he might offer to work on your aircraft or car to show his appreciation.  He’ll make you feel safe.  Then he’ll sabotage you.   Ted Bundy used a fake cast, but this psychopath uses his real disabilities.  It doesn’t matter if it’s real or fake, since they both work equally well, in the pity ploy.

I’ve noticed that psychopaths rarely have just one goal.  They layer their goalsThe first step is always to gather minions who will do their bidding.  Whether the psychopath wants sex, money, power or just needs drama, he will bring his players together like a conductor at a symphony.

They usually also plan an exit strategy, but it’s not very well planned because they don’t think they will lose.”

Related:  https://kyoung4.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/tests-of-loyalty-the-psychopaths-chisel/.

Searches: “do sociopaths collude?” “lawyers, collusion and sociopaths,” “why do family court judges like psychopaths”

Yes.  In all walks of life. But collusion in the legal system, against their oaths, against their clients’ interests, against their sworn duties is PW’s 2nd subterranean societal problem of vast proportion involving sociopathy/psychopathy.  Simply a huge, huge problem.

Psychopaths need to be weeded out of the court system through brain scans.  As is often remarked on, Ted Bundy intended on becoming a judge.  Actually, everyone in the entire legal system from the Attorney General to the beat cop should be evaluated for psychopathy.

Roger Canup on the Socially Adept Psychopath (SAP)

Some of you may have read my earlier post, “Are SAPs (Socially Adept Psychopaths) real?” (https://pathwhisperer.info/2011/09/20/post-redux-are-saps-socially-adept-psychopaths-real/).  The term was invented by Roger Canup below (now findable only in the Wayback Machine):

“In the last section I pointed out that the problem of plausible lies is the most serious problem facing humanity today. I will now discuss the people who have been telling plausible lies: the Socially Adept Psychopaths or S.A.Ps (pronounced SAPS) of the world. An example of S.A.P. thought processes is in order.

Most people have heard of Ted Bundy; the serial killer who was executed in Florida several years ago. Not many people are aware of the fact that Bundy was studying to become a prosecutor, and that eventually he hoped to become a judge. Those that do know that fact see it as some strangely ironic twist – an inexplicable quirk in Bundy’s bizarre makeup. It never seems to occur to most people that the perfect place for a psychopathic serial killer to hide in society is as a prosecutor or a judge; but I assure you that it occurs to the Psychopaths of the world. I would estimate that about 10% of the prosecutors and judges in the United States are in fact, S.A.Ps. The ONLY difference between them and Ted Bundy is that they were able to control outward signs of their Psychopathy until they achieved their goal of being in a position of authority.  [PW:  Ted Bundy, and the world, had the misfortune that he was also criminally insane and could not stop himself.  More:  https://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/open-letter-to-alice-miller/.]  I will quote from my novel “Unsuspected” to show how a psychopath views the position of Judge.

‘John had one overriding dream; to become a judge. Here was the greatest reward possible for a psychopath: to put on the royal robes of the judiciary – to become a demigod – to have others plead to Him and beg His indulgence, to have everyone rise in awe and respect when He entered the room, for His word to literally be law, to be able to create an almost endless amount of human misery, just because He could, to punish summarily anyone who, quite correctly, displayed contempt for Him, to have the power of life and death over people, to be granted the only royal title available in the United States: “Your Honor”.

How brilliant of his predecessors to slip that one past the watchful eyes of the founding fathers – who sought to establish an egalitarian society free of the mental disease of royalty. There are, he reflected, no “Your Majesties” or “Your Excellencies” in this country, but we quietly fooled everyone into accepting “Your Honors”.’

What is it that S.A.Ps are attempting to achieve? Once again a quote from my novel may explain that.

‘John House slept soundly. In his dreams he and his kind had finally succeeded in reshaping the world into the image they wanted: the dark ages had returned. Once more the plague swept unchallenged over the country side. John could hear the voice crying out in the mud street in front of his hovel: “Bring out your dead!”

John was in his glory. This was life the way it was supposed to be. He was the new Torquemada: randomly selecting anyone who was unscarred by smallpox for a session on the rack; since anyone who had escaped disfigurement had obviously signed a pact with the devil. Here at last was an era where John and his kind could feel good by comparison: with so much misery around him John knew he was better off than those he could see dying in squalor and ignorance. John reveled in the suffering of all about him. He did what he could to make that suffering worse; no agony was so great that John House could not add to it.’

It is difficult to believe that huge parts of society have been built with the guidance of the mentally ill; but they have been. The average person is heavily invested in doing things the way Psychopaths want them done, and is unaware that the things that the S.A.Ps have them doing are psychopathic. 

What evidence do I have that S.A.Ps are running things? Here is an example: Almost every newspaper in the United States has a S.A.P. monitoring the letters to the editor section. This is because the letter to the editor section of a newspaper is one outlet of the truth, and needs to be monitored to insure that no one accidentally stumbles across any part of what is actually going on. Following is a letter to the editor of the Houston Chronicle:

“It is time that the self righteous bubble surrounding the new topless dancing laws in this city was burst.

Many people, out of ignorance, have shame about anything sexual. This is a point of view which comes from not understanding the Yin and Yang nature of reality. In general good things are done out in the open and bad things are hidden. However, there are some bad things, like war, which are done in the open, and some good things, like surprise parties, which are hidden. Because of the fact that bad things are generally hidden – people tend to have a vague sense of shame about sex because sex is normally not seen.

Sex is hidden – not because it is bad or shameful – but because it is a physically dangerous time. Primitive people having sex in the open were vulnerable to all sorts of attack. For safety reasons our ancestors learned to hide their sexuality. We are descended from people who hid sex for good reasons. We have continued their behavior without understanding the reasons for it.

Of course there are those for whom an obvious truth like I just pointed out is not enough; they believe only in Higher truth. For those people here is the religious truth:

Who created sex, God or the devil? Obviously God did. Who created shame of sexuality, God or the devil? According to Genesis, God created mankind ‘naked and unashamed’, it was the devil who created shame about sex, not God. Whose work are you doing when you preach shame of sex, God’s or the devil’s? It is not God’s truth you preach, but the devil’s lies. Would you tell God that He needs to be ashamed of His finest work? That is what you are doing.

Now you have a terrible problem, before you learned the truth – you could weasel your way into Heaven with the following: “How could I have known? I thought I was doing good, I thought I was doing Your work”. That excuse won’t work any longer; now you know. The devil is the master of the believable lie, and the lie about sex is one of his best. If you continue to believe the devil’s lie and do his work by preaching shame of sexuality I promise you – Heaven is not your final destination.”

This is a profound letter – I think that no one but a S.A.P. would disagree with that assessment. Doubtless there are any number of plausible lies that could be given to justify not publishing such a letter: “It offends established religion” or “It is too controversial and radical in nature” or “It is an affront to the sensibilities of the average person” or “It doesn’t meet our editorial standards”. The truth is that it works against the hidden agenda that S.A.P’s hold dear; it might allow people to increase their happiness levels; something which no S.A.P. wants to ever see happen. Here is what the Houston Chronicle published when sent that letter:


Absolutely nothing. Were this the only example I could give I would not have enough data to draw any conclusions, but it is far from the only example. There is a general rule which I have learned is useful in studying events which occur in life: “If it happens once that could be chance; there is little to get excited about. If it happens twice; that is likely a coincidence. If it happens three times out of three; there is a trend line that warrants investigation”. I have sent enough profound letters to the editor for me to reach this conclusion: there is at least one S.A.P. who is influential in the editorial decision making process at the Houston Chronicle.

The truth is: the above letter would not be published in any newspaper in the United States. S.A.Ps understand the importance of controlling the ideas to which people are exposed; people stumbling around in the dark are much less likely to uncover the truth than those who have the benefit of the light.

As an experiment interested readers might try sending letters – containing the phrase “plausible lies” or which touch on the existence of Socially Adept Psychopaths – to the editor of their local newspaper, to see if any of them get published. I have done so repeatedly. None of them have ever been published. I have however, succeeded in having letters which deal with the conventional point of view published in the same paper. I suspect that if you run this experiment you will reach the same conclusions about your local paper that I have reached about mine. In my experience newspapers will publish letters to the editor which deal with the mundane; never those which are profound, or which question the propriety of the existing social structure.

The S.A.Ps have a problem, and it is a terrible problem: there is no way for them to control the Internet. As the Soviets found out; if people are given free access to information, there is no way to stop the truth. The information exchange which is possible over the Internet represents mankind’s true “last best hope”.”

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PW posts on SAPs:  https://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/post-redux-are-saps-socially-adept-psychopaths-real/https://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/2009/04/15/sociopathic-through-lines/, https://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/search-the-subtle-arrogance-of-psychopaths/, and https://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/search-are-bankers%C2%A0sociopathic/.

Open letter to Alice Miller

For those unfamiliar with her or her thinking I’ve summarized her thinking in two sentences (as I understand it, or perhaps just the area of interest to myself).  First, individuals when they become parents, all too often, seek to answer their own psychological neediness by “feeding” off the child, rather than answering the child’s own psychological needs — this pattern can last for generation upon generation.  Secondly, children only know they are entitled to their emotions if an adult mirrors these emotions.  I believe these two ideas to be extremely powerful.  The first one shows a way out from the phenomenon of generations of dysfunctional families.  The second promises the possibility of training “witness for soul” therapists as opposed to the hit or miss current system, in which capable therapists are essentially individual accidents.

Dear Alice Miller,

Some ten years back, I read and studied quite a number of your works.  Since that time I have, on my own, studied, thought and written about sociopaths.  I don’t recall much mention of sociopaths in your works but I don’t expect you to believe they are born, not made.  However, I don’t actually know that, this is just a surmise.  I’m very curious to know your view of sociopathy, if you have a chance to answer this.

I don’t see a contradiction between your thinking and the existence of genetic sociopaths.  Quoting my blog, “When one considers all the seemingly conscienceless and subtracts the attachment disordered, the narcissistically rigid, and the hideously abused and needy, there is still a core of the emotionally/morally colorblind, a.k.a. the Cleckley sociopath (from Cleckley’s Mask of Sanity), a.k.a., the Charlie Carewe sociopath (from the actress Mary Astor’s The Incredible Charlie Carewe).” https://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/past-notes/.

I, and others, see sociopaths as developmentally arrested psychologically — but up through puberty they go through most of the same psychological developmental stages.  So following this line of thought, I would say that Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer were serial killers due to psychological abuse, their sociopathy simply made them extremely skillful at it.  Unclaimed and left in the hospital, as I recall from their bios, they screamed for their primal birthright, loving maternal attention, until their tear ducts dried and their psyches came to realize that help was not on the way.  This vast, unplacated, infantile rage then went subterranean to reappear again and again throughout life but now with an adult’s capabilities and, in their cases, a sociopath’s talents.

Perhaps you would be interested in my posts on incest, I believe I have adopted your view of psychological cause and effect:  https://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/incest-dad-represents-self-in-court-cross-examines-daughter/ & https://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/post-redux-josef-fritzl-and-reflections-on-incest-52308/.

I look forward to your reply.

Thank you,

The Path Whisperer

For more information on Alice Miller and her writings:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw_3_12?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=alice+miller+prisoners+of+childhood&sprefix=alice+miller&sprefix=alice+miller&sprefix=alice+miller&sprefix=alice+miller, http://www.alice-miller.com/index_en.php.