That’s a facile and clichéd answer, but, more often than not, an accurate one.
Sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists, borderlines and histrionics lie for many reasons. Self-preservation (e.g., to avoid jail or other unwanted natural consequences for their bad behavior), to manipulate or exploit others to get money, sympathy, power, attention, security, a relationship or whatever their current currency happens to be and/or to make themselves look good or more successful than they actually are. Sometimes, these individuals lie when the truth would serve them better or they lie simply because they’re bored.
They also lie because they enjoy the buzz or adrenaline rush from “getting one over on” or “outsmarting” their target. Dr Paul Ekman calls this rush duping delight.
. . . duping delight, the near irresistible thrill some people feel in taking a risk and getting away with it. Sometimes it includes contempt for the target who is being so ruthlessly and successfully exploited. It is hard to contain duping delight; those who feel it want to share their accomplishments with others, seeking admiration for their exploits.
. . . The presence of others witnessing the successful liar typically intensifies the delight experienced and increases the chances that some of the excitement, pleasure, and contempt will leak, thus betraying the liar.”
I have had clients describe this phenomenon in relation to the sociopaths, psychopaths, narcissists, borderlines et al in their lives and have witnessed it firsthand in some of my past personal relationships. In previous articles, I have referred to it as the Sociopathic Smirk. The smirk that says, “I just tricked you” or “I just pushed your buttons.” These individuals derive pleasure from both.
Dr Bella DePaulo’s research on lie detection finds that the closer one is to the liar, say a spouse, partner, family member or friend, the more difficult it is to spot their lies.
When you’re in a relationship, you not only have the experience in knowing the other person, you have certain motivations to see your partner in a particular way, and you especially don’t want to think that they are lying to you.”
If your partner is abusive and/or disordered, you have probably been gaslighted and told that every nasty or dishonest thing your partner does is your fault. “It’s your fault. Your face shouldn’t have gotten in the way of my fist.” “I wouldn’t have had to cheat if you were paying attention to me 24/7/365, even when I wasn’t paying attention to you.”
Once you have been groomed to doubt your perceptions and, literally, what you are seeing with your own two eyes, it adds to the difficulty of spotting their inconsistencies, contradictions and straight up lies. It makes it even more tough if you still care about or love your abuser. You don’t want to believe what you know is true — or false. However, your emotional, psychological and perhaps physical survival depends upon learning their “tells.” Even the most practiced pathological liars have tells.
embedded by Embedded Video
Counseling with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.
Want to Say Goodbye to Crazy? Buy it HERE.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thank you, MB.
A great 2 minute clip from House MD.
Perfect illustration of sociopath:
(Save the link, cannot be found anywhere else by a search)
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thanks, Mell. “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
“All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
—Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X”
“The phrase was also used in a report prepared during the war by the United States Office of Strategic Services in describing Hitler’s psychological profile:…
His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”
Hello all. Welcome back Dr. T.
The Hitler profile sounds like my last boss.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thank you, bluegeek. It’s good to be back.
Great to see you back, Dr. T and Paul! I missed your insights and good sense. Looking forward to the book.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Thank you, seeker. I hope our book does not disappoint.
We know it won’t! 🙂 This is one of the sanest sites on the net. Like a breath of fresh air…
Love, love, love! And cannot wait for the book!
In a response to one of my posts in “A Different Look at Men’s Violence: How to Slap your Way to Slavery (November 21, 2011),” you replied:
“Dr Tara J. Palmatier says
November 22, 2011 at 7:13 pm
‘I don’t remember my exgf ever goading me to violence but I remember one time she said something to which my reaction was wanting to backhand her.’ [a quote from my earlier post in the blog]
It’s incidents like this that make me wonder if projective identification is mixed in with FAE.”
But, projective identification never seemed to fit the circumstances.
However, at the 41 minute mark, where you said, “When you hit the wall and the spark of self-respect re-ignites…” it made sense. That was when I hit the wall and my spark of self-respect re-ignited with a vengeance.
I just recently found this site, and it’s truly helping me piece together what I went through. I journaled, and I swear some of what Dr. T has written here sounds almost precisely like things I’ve written in my journal. It’s scary! The woman I found myself involved with definitely exhibited a LOT of BPD traits, but what I realized after looking at S4M and using what i read here to figure out “what the fuck is wrong with her!?” that it really didn’t matter. A fundamentally screwed up person who hurts people, destroys people, shows no remorse or empathy and never takes responsibility for her actions is just flat out a bad person. If I had to guess I’d say she’s BPD with a NPD mask to cover it up. If someone is bullying you, treating you like dirt, making you feel like you’re the worst piece of shit ever, lying, exaggerating, smear campaigning you, does labeling it really matter, or can we just say “she’s a truly ugly person inside, a truly horrible person of low character” and admit that we did a poor job of judging that character?
Also, is it ok to e-mail you Dr. T.?
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Yes, it’s okay (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hello, Wow I never thought id be writing this but here goes. I met my wife on her birthday in 2000. Beautiful, and one thing I didnt care for was she dressed very provacitive, Anyway we became the best of friends but one thing i was seeing is she was always either having a affair on her boyfriends or showing up with a blackeye from her Boyfriends.Well she had a way ofmaking me think that these guys was just the devil. well she was 8 yrs younger than I was so I just assumed that because her father didnt seem to care much for her that she was just battled ready all the time. Well we use to flirt all the time and when she was around others she would treat me like trash yet when it was just us she was incredible. Well as time went on she use to always tell me how her boyfriends would steal her money and id cover her losses. So then she found out she was pregnant and i didnt know at the time but it was narrowed down to 7 guys. well once she had the kid she supposedly had post pardom depression and basically her mom had her son all but maybe a day a week that she would have him. Won day i asked her to go out she said “i would but I got this dam kid” that was a real problem for me but i threw it off as the depression. So a cpl yrs goes by and she knows whos the dad is but doesnt want him to see his son. And she said he was threatening her so she had to file a restraining order on him. So then same with another guy only there relationshipwas super violent. But there was something that seemed scary to me ..it was like she liked the drama.. So i was in san juan with a friend and i get a call..it was her I said “hey what are you doing? she said well i dumbed him so you if ya want. well i laughed it off and when i got into town i went to see her and she wasnt lying..we went and had some drinks and when we got home she was in im gonna have sex with you and i dont care about protection or anything else…well ill confess she was hot and young and i loed everybit of it.. and it stayed that way for over a year and like a light switch she would just flip to a diff person..saying i was useless pathetic and why she ever got with me because she could have any man she wanted..and if i tried to defend myself she would threaten the police..and she had a real passion for fireman and policeman. so one day she woke up in a great mood and was the perfect person..she said i wanna have a baby with you..i was caught back was like are you sure? she said yes..well 2 weeks later she was pregnant..during her pregnancy it wasnt really that bad im thinking because she didnt get out much ..well then she said we gotta get married before i cant fit in a dress…well we said small wedding..as we had money but wasnt wealthy..well she stuck to that not at all…saying if i didnt she would leave and find a man that wanted her ..she was def not short on self confidence..well march 24th here comes our daughter..we was the perfect family i didnt look at her son as astep son…he was mine but i didnt find it fair that his dad wanted to see him and she just didnt want him to..well just as the first she got post pardom…wanted nothing to do with the baby but had to work out nonstop…i raised our daughter the first year ..she never got up with eher or anything..so then life became very hard for the three of us as my now wife was a ticking time bomb…be perfect when we went to sleep and then at 3 am shes in my face screaming..then would accuse me of cheating and worse was taking money..i had no control over anything…so i had a buddy come over i hadnt seen in years and my wife who was back in scgool full time to fish her bs in accounting said to just leave her be as she had to study..well he arrived and she said hi..and she went in the room and came back out an hour later in full make up and very reveiling clothes..she was blatenly flirting ..well got through that night and about a week went by and i had to get a rx for a muscle relaxer for my back so i just grabbed the debit card and went and got it…wrong idea..she was as mad as ive seen slamming doors..then i heard a banging noise and my son and i walked in and she was beating herself in the head with the phone…and next thing i know im in handcuffs for domestic battery..if it not been for my son my life as a pilot was over..well when i didnt goto jail she did as she always did took the kids and went to her moms…only this time the fallowing morning she smelled like sweat when she came home and was by herself..well she got in the shower and then left…i didnt say much and in about 45 min there was a knock on the door and it was 2 cops..i had 15 min to leave..she filed a restraining orderon me..said i drug her by her hair around the house kicking here…that night i get a call as im in a burger king just sitting there..said well i told you dont f–k with me and hope you learn your lesson…then i said where are you she said at her moms..well i got a call the next am from my insurance ..she asked how my wifes service was in another town..the same town my bestfriend was from..she and him had been having a 4 day affair…so that was it for me i had enuff…well she took the kids and went to her moms and she hid them from me for a cpl months took every dollor, all bills that was in my name was not paid..she grad from college that next week and had a good job…well i lost everything…had nothing..she had a job but had affair with the ceo…and got fired well then she moved and met her neighbor and they had a child and hes now got a restraining order on him only this ones for life…i filed divorce 4 yrs ago but she just has away with the judge to get more time yet i still dont see my daughter but very spuratic…even though we have a ct ordered parent plan..she says if i pic up my daughter shes gonna tell her shes getting nothing for xmas from me..then on my days i was to see her she put her in sports and told me if i dont pay shes gonna say she has to quit because im a dead beat…and if i show up she will make her quit…i am so lost in life …i havent seen my daughter but 1 day this year..she thinks that all i want to do is put her mother in jail..shes 8 stood up in her class and said her dad is a drunk and lives in the trees..i took her to therapy because she is a mess,,,doc said she was badly depressed and when i had no money for therapy her mother said she was gonna have to just get over it…theres been 15 to 17 guys there the last year…the police have been to her apartment 36 times in the last 16 months…yet every court date she says the perfect things…im so lost..my daughter is all i have in this world..and i really do think i married a sociopathic marrcisist..she is everything i have read…i just dont know how im going to get passed this..she suckes money from me and if i dont she threatens to call the faa on me and ill loose my license…i was suppose to be with usair for 7 yrs now but she shredded my logbooks rite before my interview,,i couldnt proove my time…shes a horrible horrible mother i really am at wits end i have the final hearing coming up at im almost scared to tell the judge what weve or i have endured as he will think im crazy…lost….
iknow it seems like its alot jibberish but im only telling peicesand bits…i just feel like i have no fight left yet i want my daughter back..i have her atty asking forfees for him and all kinds of support .. i gaveher 500 for emily a bed she got her a blow up mattress and herselfa coach purse..please any advice…thanks 42m florida
Faeld Toseeher says
The problem is for many of us. We find this information way, way after the damage is done. Once I read about BPD, NPD and Histrionics I knew what I had experienced. What I want to know is why the psychological profession ignores men when describing what should be signals of this behavior. Why are marriage counselors so ignorant or resistant to considering this when marriage counseling, when kids are involved and it’s extremely important? Why when I tried to describe her behavior in my confused, uneducated way (meaning I had not done any personality disorder research) did they fail to even consider that she may have a disorder. They assumed I was the problem and in fact, I had trusted her to “pick” the marriage counselors and they seemed to have engage her in dialog before ever meeting me. It seems to me the problem is that the mental health professionals have not learned or understood the significance of ethics, co-opting and more. Later, when the immediate family of these women are a mess, they continue to feel sorry for her and punish the kids and husband. When I read about the Narcissistic mother, scapegoat daughter and golden child, it fits perfectly. When I read about borderline, it fits her behavior. When I read about histrionic behavior, I see that in her too. When I look at myself, I am struggling to value my life, I don’t know who I am anymore and have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, self punitive behavior and think about ending my life for a period every single day. I can never recover from this.