Part of our goal at The Institute is not only to help survivors heal from the aftermath of a PLR (Pathological Love Relationship), but also to help prevent future relationships with pathologicals. In prevention, The Institute helps survivors to spot overt, glaring pathology. The overt pathology is easy to identify:
- Few would argue that mothers who drown their children, like Susan Smith or Andrea Yates, aren’t terribly disordered.
- Those who shoot people they don’t know, or commit a drive-by shooting clearly have pathological motives.
- Those who sexually abuse children and then hide the sexual offenders, like the Catholic Church has done, are the face of evil.
- Horrendous hate crimes that torture hundreds, thousands, or millions of people— like war crimes or the Holocaust—illustrate that severe pathology is behind the motivation of that type of hate.
- The deranged that break into homes to beat the elderly for money, like Phillip Garrett who terrorized those in assisted living facilities, have a notable bent of sheer brutality.
- Terrorists who commit the taking of hostages and inflict psychological torture, like the infamous Stockholm Bank Robbery (which resulted in the term Stockholm Syndrome), are identifiable as probable psychopaths.
- The rapist who preys on the vulnerable, or the rapist who rapes a woman in front of her own husband, is overtly vile.
- The violent anti-socials that are frequent gang members or thugs, like James Manley, who murdered my father.
- Serial killers, like Ted Bundy, who raped and killed at least 36 women, leave no doubt that he was the worst of the worst psychopaths.
- The ordering of killing a pregnant woman and her unborn child, like schizophrenic psychopath Charlie Manson did, makes our blood run cold.
- Cult leaders who usher hundreds to death, like Jim Jones, remind us of the power and persuasion of pathology.
- Chronic re-offending domestic violence abusers, like O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson, convince us that all DV is not treatable, and some abuser brutality increases with each crime, and are obviously disordered.
- The babbling grandiosity of narcissism, as seen in Charlie Sheen, reminds us that even the rich and famous carry and display their pack of pathology for all to see.
- White-collar scam artists, like Bernie Madoff, who rob millions of dollars from thousands of people, remind us that not all pathology is physically violent—some do it with panache and a tie on.
These forms of pathology are recognizable by most of society. Many would agree that these people are horribly disordered and probably dangerous for life.
But being able to spot pathology in less overt and even frequently hidden acts, yet equally as damaging, is where most of us fall short—including professionals in the criminal justice and mental health systems. It’s also where survivors of PLRs are likely to trip up yet again, since the types of behaviors pathologicals perpetrate can vary, causing confusion to the unsuspecting, highly tolerant, and emotionally understanding survivor.
Low empathy is at the core of a cluster of pathological disorders that correlates to inevitable harm when it crosses the paths of others. Low empathy has its roots in reduced conscience, remorse, and guilt. Without empathy, pathologicals find pleasure in harming others. While they might not cackle aloud in public when a dog is hit by a car, they nonetheless live in the shadows of enjoying the physical or emotional destruction of others.
Sadistic? Absolutely! But often it’s sadistic behind closed doors, or as sheltered reputations behind fictitious names, or online identities.
Why aren’t these pathological disorders better identified? That is the million-dollar question, since the main judicial, social, and mental systems of our society deal with this particular cluster of pathological disorders day in and day out. Why are they actively dealing with Cluster Bs? Because these disorders represent the majority of white- and blue-collar crimes that cataclysmically smash into our lives, even if they are never identified as crimes. The reason society has not cohesively named this cluster of disorders as the center of their focus is because each system has its own view of the behaviors associated with the pathological’s disorders:
- Law enforcement calls them the bad guys (if they are even caught).
- Mental health systems call them patients.
- Domestic violence organizations call them abusers.
- Batterer intervention programs call them perpetrators.
- Criminal defense attorneys call them clients.
- Sexual assault centers call them rapists or sexual offenders.
- Financial institutions call them swindlers.
- The online world calls them trolls.
- Victims call them predators.
- Children and adolescents call them cyberbullies.
- The swindled call them con artists.
- The judicial system calls them criminals (or not, if they are never identified).
- Churches call them evil or unredeemed.
- Website owners call them hackers.
- The defamed call them cyberstalkers.
- Parents call them pedophiles.
- Jails call them inmates.
- Prisons call them high-security risks.
- The FBI calls them targets and terrorists.
As each system deals with its own view of a specific act the person has done, we miss the wider category that these people fall under. We miss the bigger implication of what goes with that category. We miss the fact that those with these pathological disorders have largely low, or no, positive treatment outcomes. Each system dealing with a behavior only sees the person through their own behavioral specialty. Yet we are all talking about the same disorders in action.
When we ask “Who does that?” we immediately become brothers and sisters in the same battle against pathology. We begin to see the who within the act, the disorder that perpetrates these same acts, behaviors, or crimes. It’s the same subset of disorders that have different focuses, but the same outcome: inevitable harm.
(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)