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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/10/10

Understanding and Healing from Sociopaths in Our Midst

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Message Fannie LeFlore
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Habitual liars and cheaters, con artists and swindlers are extremely self-centered and controlling people. They focus on manipulating other people simply as a way of life, for their own benefit.

People like Donna Andersen clearly know what this kind of evil looks like. They know because they once trusted people who turned out to be sociopaths -- people who deceived them intentionally, who took from them both tangible and intangible things of value, through encounters in romantic, familial or business relationships, whether over a period of hours, days, weeks, months or years.

Now, with the publication of her new book, Love Fraud: How Marriage to a Sociopath Fulfilled my Spiritual Plan, Donna Andersen tells the full and intimate story of how she slowly learned harsh truths about sociopaths and the consequences from relationships with them. "I thought I was marrying a successful businessman, James Montgomery. It turned out I was his business. He took all my money and left me seriously in debt. I found out, far too late, that my husband had a history of defrauding women. I also found out he's not alone. Experts estimate that 1% to 4% of the population are sociopaths, depending upon whom you ask. That means there may be 3 to 12 million sociopaths in the United States, and 68 million to 272 million sociopaths worldwide," Andersen writes.

Andersen had previously shared parts of her story through blogs on the website she launched on July 19, 2005, which now helps thousands across the globe who've been devastated by sociopaths, to realize they are not crazy after all. also featured a review of Mary Jo Buttafuoco's 2009 book about life with Joey Buttafuoco, whose dalliances with a teenager, Amy Fisher, became a sensational media story after Fisher shot Mary Jo in the head.

Both Andersen and Mary Jo Buttafuoco, though not licensed as professionals in the field of psychology, did significant research on sociopathy. In recollections of living with men who brought too much turmoil into their lives, both staunchly refer to their exes as "sociopaths."

Andersen's book is a meticulous compilation of factual details, with narratives and anecdotal evidence. Personal journals she kept provide a rich source of information and reflections on a life shattered during the two-and-a-half years she was enmeshed through marriage to Montgomery. Her book recalls both horrendous and routine events, including high and low points in relationships with men, visceral scenery from various geographical destinations interspersed with moments of intimacy with traveling companions, challenging experiences in maintaining her professional reputation and financial solvency, both supportive and sometimes strained interactions with family and friends, and the intrusion of unwanted anxiety-ridden thoughts, feelings and behaviors, before she found her way back from the depths of despair. Andersen's story becomes even more intriguing as she goes out on a limb with an in-depth exploration of the inner journey she traveled through chaos, cruelty and ultimately clarity that led to her own spiritual renewal.

You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatsoever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something. - Richard Feynman, 1918-1988

As Andersen explains in her book, the behaviors exhibited by sociopaths suggest they are primarily interested in power, control and pleasure. "Sociopaths have no heart, no conscience and no remorse," she writes. Such individuals lack substance at their core, like an empty shell.

A chief characteristic is being devoid of empathy, lacking concern for the well-being of others. The Montgomery and other true stories of male and female sociopaths cited in the book or on show the inhumane extremes to which some people will go to get what they want. They'll claim to be in love, while juggling multiple partners or operating with ulterior motives. They'll fake credentials, and pit people against each other. They will lie, cheat and steal. They will deny or minimize how they intimidate and abuse others mentally, psychologically, physically or financially.

Andersen's courageous work helps readers comprehend the reality of sociopaths in our midst beyond what is normally covered in mainstream media. It's one thing to understand sociopaths in generalized or academic terms, and quite another to experience them in real life. It's in the day-to-day details of living where both their blatant and subtle impact is felt most, and can become life-threatening or life-changing for most people entangled with a sociopath.

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Fannie LeFlore, MS, LPC, CADC-D, is Owner/President of LeFlore Communications, LLC ( She has over 30 years of combined professional experience in the fields of Writing/Editing/Corporate Communications and (more...)

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