The Worst Coming to the Worst
Most psychopaths and most “victims” know the word Lovefraud. This is one of those sites that I have named hater sites. Owned by Donna Andersen’s professional background is in journalism. She calls herself a “freelance writer” and is the author of a book by the same name as her website, Love Fraud and Red Flags of Love Fraud. Her expertise in sociopathy comes from her marriage with James Alwyn Montgomery “who has been diagnosed as a sociopath.” (Reading a bit further, I discovered that she was the “doctor” to give him that diagnosis after having read Without Conscience.) Regardless of his psychiatric diagnosis, he certainly was a sleaze. She met him through a single’s ad. I guess as a single 40-year-old woman, she was feeling kind of desperate. His ad claimed he was worth two to three million, a widower with a grown daughter and a dog. After the wedding, he moved in with her and she converted her basement into an office for him. Strange she didn’t wonder why, with two-three million, he couldn’t do better than that. It turned out he was a professional conman who took money from a number of women. She lost everything she had but gained a new identity, a survivor of sociopathic love fraud. With this, she was able to write two books and start a money-making website for fellow victims/survivors.
Dr. George Simon is a psychologist who has written a lot about psychopathy. He also has the dubious distinction of declaring psychopathy a “character disorder” instead of a “personality disorder.” So what is the difference?
“Personality and character disorders are not the same thing. Our personality defines the stylistic way we tend to interact, while our character is defined by the level of social conscientiousness and virtue in our personality. When personality or character traits present major obstacles to functioning in a healthy way, they might constitute a disorder.” (emphasis mine)
Dr. Simon is rather cagy in explaning what he means but I have finally managed to find a definition in his own words that admits that he mixes morality with science (and comes up with a frankensteinian monster). In the animal kingdom, some species can breed with other species but the offspring is usually sterile. So, I believe, is the frankensteinian mix of science and morality. Simon defines disorder as a set of “obstacles to functioning in a healthy way.” This sort of begs the question. One is unhealthy because one has a disorder. But a disorder, by definition, is unhealthy functionality. I, myself, would define “disorder” as any pattern or order that the people with the power and prestige to name things don’t like. As for health, how is that defined? If someone is generally in harmony with hirself and feels good about hir life, isn’t that the best definition of health one can honestly come up with? Most psychopaths, when asked, declare themselves pretty satisfied with who they are. Some are in prison for breaking the law. One might call that a misfunction of disfunction. But the many psychopaths who are free and living what Hare calls reasonable lives. They do not seek out therapy and don’t think they need to be “fixed.”
Aha! But the problem with psychopaths, Simon will say (with Hare’s agreement) is the affect we have on others. We are predators. What’s the proof? Well, there are sites like Love Fraud which goes on and on about how terribly psychopaths have treated their lovers and/or spouses. There are plenty of “victims” there to testify to that. But how do we even know how many of these “psychopaths” really are that? Ms. Andersen’s “sociopath” hasn’t been clinically diagnosed. We only have his bad behavior to go on. And psychopathy and/or sociopathy are not identical to bad behavior. If they were the lay person could gleefully go through life, pointing to various folks they don’t like and calling them ‘paths.
Simon has attempted to explain the difference between personality and character.
The word ‘personality’ is derived from the Greek word persona, which means “mask.” In the ancient theater, males played all roles, including the roles of female characters. Also, the art of dramatizing situations and conveying emotion was not as evolved as it is today. So, actors used masks of various types to denote gender as well as to emphasize various emotional states. Classical theories of psychology borrowed the term “persona” because they conceptualized personality as the social “mask” a person unconsciously puts on to hide and protect the more authentic but more vulnerable “true self.”
But psychopaths are notorious for wearing a mask to hide his true personality. But if personality is the mask, then all we have are characters living behind masks that are called their personalities. Simon says everyone wears a mask to protect hir “vulnerable ‘true self.'” Character, on the other hand,
The word ‘character’ derives from both French and Greek words meaning to engrave or furrow a distinctive mark. The word has been used to denote the most distinguishing traits of an individual that define or “mark” them as a person. Most especially, the term has been used to reflect those aspects of an individual’s personality that indicate the degree to which his or her personality traits reflect socially desirable qualities such as self-control, ethics, loyalty, fortitude, etc. So, the term ‘character’ generally refers to the extent of one’s virtuousness and social conscientiousness.
Hmm. “Socially desirable qualities” such as “ethics?” Well, it seems clear Dr. Simon is talking about morality no matter how skittish he is about spelling it out.
Dr. Simon isn’t the only professional confounding science and morality. M. Scott Peck, who, unlike Dr. Simon, is an actual M.D., wrote a book called People of the Lie, subtitled, “The Hope for Healing Human Evil.” Unlike Dr. Simon, Dr. Peck is not at all shy in using his medical credentials to call fellow human beings “evil.” It’s right there on the cover of his book. Dr. Peck is refreshingly honest. He looks the problem right in the eye. In People of the Lie, he writes,
Evil is a moral judgment. I am proposing that it may also be a scientific judgment. But making the judgment scientifically will not remove it from the moral sphere. The word is pejorative. Whether we call a man evil on the basis of pure opinion or on the basis of a standardized psychological test, we are passing a moral judgment on him either way. Had we best not refrain from doing either? Science is dangerous enough. Moral judgment is dangerous enough. How dare we mix the two in the light of Jesus’ admonition
And not everyone even believes in Jesus. There was a time when every country standardized the faith all citizens had to adhere to. It led to many religious wars. In times of monarchy, it was the monarch who defined the “true religion” for his subjects. The creation of secular society freed mankind from the sticky quagmire created by the insistence on a one true religion. Science has long been held as independent of religious dogma. How can “evil” ever by a “scientific judgment?” By some sort of scientific consensus? Dr. Peck is right in calling this slippery slope “dangerous.” It’s a wonder that he still thinks it’s ok to risk it.
Science isn’t quite as objective was we want to think it is. Otherwise, scientists who disagreed with each other would be able to subject their various hypotheses to an objective scientific test and then everyone would see the truth. But there are bona fide scientists who believe in and preach creationism. There is disagreement among scientists about vaccination. It seems to me, too, that, just as in business meetings, there are a couple of actual thinkers and a lot of ballast that just floats after a leader. Mixing science with political policy can become just as sticky as established religion once was. Nevertheless, I think we should try to keep science as pure as we can. Anyone truly committed to Truth, should agree.
Psychiatry started when scientifically inclined individuals sought to divorce social stigma attached to certain behavior from what they started calling illness which they believed actually caused that behavior. Despite the efforts of those psychiatrists, the stigma remained, now attached to the label mental illness. Changing a name doesn’t change people’s minds. Simon and Peck seem to want to reunite some “sick” behavior with the original stigma. Since the stigma has clung to the concept of “sick behavior,” these two have managed to develop a following.
Sam Vaknin suggested psychologists might do better to develop psychology as more a philosophy or school of philosophy than a hard science. There is some justification in that idea. Human beings are much too complex and variable to reduce to some kind of hard, scientific formula. Thinkers resist over simplification and we don’t seem to have liberated ourselves from religion as much as we think.
Back with Donna Andersen and George Simon. Simon says people with character disorders can’t be “helped” by traditional psychotherapy. The videos of him on Donna’s site hint but don’t spell out how he would suggest people like us psychopaths ought to be treated. To find out, sign up for the courses and pay your fees. I think I am correct in turning a wary eye to these people who call me “evil” and want to “treat” me. I think their sympathies are all with the “victims” they insist we are piling up (who are probably just folks who had bad relationships). Still, it is fitting that these two people who fall into my definition of haters are teaming up.