A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

I Saw a Sociopath Yesterday – And Everyone Thought He was Great!

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)

My wife and I recently traveled up to Canada and rode the ferry over to Vancouver Island. While waiting to board we noticed a guy in the waiting area who would have been the “life of the party” in most any setting. This guy went out of his way to talk to people. He had a smile on his face. He took note of people and commented positively on their appearance or their interests. He asked where they were going. And once a conversation was started, well, he spoke confidently and convincingly about any topic that came up. He had been everywhere and done everything. He worked in a (glance around the room quickly) rather hush-hush high tech job. And the people loved it. On and on they talked. I am sure they went away thinking – what a wonderful man!

My wife and I looked at each other and said, “That guy is a sociopath.” I have no doubt we were correct. The disarming charm. The apparent intelligence. The seeming concern for others (which was really a mask for total self-absorption). The classic signs.

He wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. I wonder how many people lay devastated in the swath of his sociopathic march through life?

Oh, and if we had stood up and said “Watch out for that guy! He’s is a classic sociopath. He is using you!” The response?  “How dare you speak that way about this wonderful guy!”

Ok. You will have to learn the hard way.

32 Comments

  1. Searcher

    I enjoyed your thoughts. I have mentioned before that I have met several of these people at church. I have learned that the charm is superficial and can’t be maintained for any appreciable period of time . These people often turn out to be monsters at home . They are cruel and uncaring . They are complimentary of you to get you to drop your defenses. Jeff, please tell me why most pastors cannot spot these people .

    • Jeff Crippen

      Searcher – There are no doubt a number of reasons. Good question. I would say 1) A pastor can have a very naive view of human nature, in spite of preaching from his pulpit about sin and total depravity. The pastorate often attracts “nice guys,” and “nice” is not what you want leading Christ’s flock. Pastors receive NO training of consequence in seminary on the tactics and nature of true evil in the church. 2) Like most everyone else, pastors are duped by the convincing “godly” facade the socio wears. 3) The wicked are often in key positions in the church and to go against them will mean some practical conseuquences for the pastor – reduced paycheck, he might get fired, the church might divide and so on. 4) Arrogant confidence in his own ability with Bible in hand to handle anything. 5) Bad, bad, bad theology. Bad theology about sin. Bad theology about man. Bad theology about the nature of salvation. Bad theology about….GOD!

      • Friend of Target

        I agree with Pastor Crippen & would like to add that some pastors are abusers themselves. Some professions attract both the noble & ignoble (pastor, police officer, lawyer/judge are all positions that come with built in power & trust, very attractive for both those who truly want to help people (Pastor Crippen for example) & for narcissists/sociopaths who enjoy being evil/hurting & fooling people.

      • Carla

        Or The Pastor could be the one that has to be spotted , for it happens that the church is fooled too. Very sad to say~

      • Jeff Crippen

        Very true, Carla. Very true.

      • Friend of Target

        Note for Moderator/Pastor Crippen’s last comment in this string is posted in the wrong spot. He meant to put it on Anonymous’s comment to the post called, “Do you tell others about the sexual abuse?”

      • Jeff Crippen

        Thanks Friend – it’s fixed, I think.

      • freeatlast8

        So how can any of us know if there is someone like this on our own board of overseers/leaders at our personal churches???

    • Still Reforming

      Searcher,

      It’s interesting that you use the word “charm.” That is the word I saw pop up in descriptions of people who have Narcissist Personality issues (I’d write Disorder, but I don’t think it’s a mental illness, like bipolar disorder). Anyway, it took me awhile to get over the word “charm,” because I don’t see my ex-h (a narc) as “charming,” but he’s a “nice guy.” The proverbial “nice guy.” Always a funny joke to add or something to flatter his audience.

      It finally clicked once I got to know the real guy (only took close to two decades – well, I was onto him, but I didn’t understand the patterns until I started reading about it). And that real guy wasn’t “charming” as in Prince Charming – or like we see in the movies, but his “charm” was in his “niceness.” His subtle ways. The deceit, which is only so deceitful because it’s not obvious.

      The word “charm” tripped me up for many years because that didn’t describe him as I see “charm.” But “charm” comes in many disguises. The one with which I’m most familiar is “nice.” I’ve seen very few Christian writers address this topic, but there are a few out there now who caution Christians about “nice.” Being “nice” isn’t Biblical. Respectful, yes. Compassionate, yes. Generous, yes. But not “nice.”

      • IamMyBeloved's

        SR – Just so you know, NPD is a mental illness and is classified as the only untreatable mental illness there is. Most counselors have to receive counseling themselves after counseling someone with NPD. A person can have narcissistic traits, but that is not the same thing as NPD.

      • Still Reforming

        IamMyBeloved’s,

        Thank you for that clarification. I don’t doubt that it’s considered to be a mental illness; I just personally have a hard time with that because (1) it would be very difficult to “diagnose” as compared to something like bipolar disorder and (2) it tends to take the personal responsibility down a notch or 12 if said narcissist has a “disorder.” Know what I mean?

        So while I won’t dispute the actual clinical classification of NPD, I myself don’t like to characterize the narc in my life as having NPD because he is certainly capable of changing his behavior and he knows very well what he’s doing. (I know another narc or two and I would say the same about them as well.)

        No doubt there are varying degrees of bad behavior and choices, because the narcs in my life own all of thier choices. Every last one. It’s not a disorder that drives my ex-anti-husband to do what he does. It’s just evil. He chooses to not serve God. That’s how I see it.

      • IamMyBeloved's

        Actually SR, I was basically saying that NPD is diagnosable with testing and that the description is exactly that. So evil that even the psychologists don’t want to deal with it- because they know what it does to someone to be around a person with NPD. They make no excuses for it. Just because someone has a diagnosis does not mean they do what they do by choice and at their own will. Of course they are evil and choose not to follow God and as you say it is their choice but that does not mean they don’t have to suffer the consequences for their choices.

  2. Still Reforming

    And this is why we have seen well more than once that standard refrain cited after a murder or other crime, “Why, I just can’t believe that (my neighbor/coworker/family man/church member/insert acquaintance of choice here) would ever do such a thing! He’s such a great guy!”

  3. healingInHim

    “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)”
    Pastor Crippen, how did you know I needed this verse to convict me?
    Trying to warn others of questionable “big name” teachers and being made to feel like I’m just out to lunch and that obviously I am the problem in the marriage because of my Biblical stance.
    I keep trying to befriend the so-called Christian community only to be frowned upon. All I ask is that we ‘study’ the lifestyle and true doctrines of these popular teachers … and then decide whether the Lord would truly want us following ‘them’ or the infallible Word? I am definitely viewed as an outsider and not being made to feel welcome within ‘the churches’ unless I agree with ‘their programs’.
    Yes, so often ‘man’ is mesmerized by the smooth talking of popular men and women preachers – teachers.

  4. Amy

    Hmmm, I wonder if that was my ex??!! LOL

    After living for 20 years with an abusive man who was quite the charmer to others around him, I feel I can spot a sociopath a mile away now! When I see someone like the man described above it always makes me pause and take a step back because it resembles the same behavior my ex used, and still does — and which I fell for over 25 years ago.

  5. Babylove

    socio-paths are easy for me to spot as well…as I was married to one for 3 yrs

  6. Shandra

    Bless you for speaking Truth. We see this everyday from high places and low. Devastation in the wake. Keep speaking out, Please.

  7. Charis

    Eww! This makes me want to check my STBX’s travel calendar or bank receipts…was he the man on the ferry?! Wow.

  8. MicroGal

    This is my ex husband. He always knows everything about everything. He makes friends with anyone. They think he is handsome and wonderful and so kind and caring.

    It makes me ill. His whole family is good at this and it is so sad. They are worried about appearances, making it look like their life is perfect, but they are rotting on the inside. Absolutely putrid. Anyone who has gotten on the wrong side of these people has battle wounds and stays far, far away (if allowed, what with family court and all….).

    And now my ex is keeping up the charade with our neighbors, so that I won’t have anyone to call when I need help with something at the house…..

    • Still Reforming

      MicroGal,

      Were we married to the same guy? I’ve found out the same things from neighbors on either side of my property. One thing I’m learning however is that in getting to know these neighbors myself, I think they might be learning that I’m not the person ex- painted me to be. (Except for one neighbor, who is also my ex’s employer.)

      Ex’s family is the same as your ex’s. A few of them are very adept at being “nice” and buying things for people, so as to endear the recipients of the gifts to themselves. Recently, my ex’s sister asked my mother, “Does mental illness run in your family?” (implying I must be mentally ill). My mom said she had to refrain from laughing out loud in the sister’s face and merely replied, “No, but I have my doubts about your brother.”

    • Ribbons

      This is what my daughter is dealing with. Thankfully he is transferred away. So there will be some relief for her.. Be well, be strong..

      • Hi Ribbons, welcome to the blog! 🙂

  9. abirdcalledhope

    Yep. Got got verbally ripped apart by an abuser and watched him be the most charming man at church the same week. It made me physically sick. I think my more afraid of him being superficially kind to me at church and continuing the good guy act to make it look like I’m the one with a problem than I am of him being an outright jerk to me.

    • freeatlast8

      I had thought a safe place to meet a “good man” would be at church. But after hearing all your comments, I am afraid that if there was a man at church a woman got to know relationally, it could end up spoiling her attending there if he turned out to be a bad egg and she had to “tell on him” Or even if she didn’t tell, it would be awkward attending the same church with someone you know is a fraud. Maybe it’s best to look outside one’s own congregation, although then you’d have to take up with someone no one knows at all…even riskier! AGH!

    • Hi abirdcalledhope, and welcome to the blog! 🙂
      You might find it helpful to read our New Users Info page.

  10. IamMyBeloved's

    This reminds me of many times when my abuser would enter a room and became everyone’s best friend and long-lost buddy. In one instance in particular, there was a “famous person” involved and even though abuser did not know this person, had never met them and actually had told me he could not stand his teachings, once we arrived in the parking lot, abuser immediately exited our car and jumped into the man’s car with him! Once entering the building, abuser made his way to the man’s dressing room, hooked up his microphone on him, took over the entire event and was carrying this guy’s Bible for him and literally made himself in charge of everything. Amazing – Absolutely amazing.

  11. fiftyandfree

    My anti husband once charmed the pants off of an education lecturer, flaunting his “extensive knowledge” and “commitment” to assist in this speaker’s efforts to improve education in my state. I sat there in awkward silence because I knew he didn’t give a hoot about this lecturer’s efforts. I cringed when he gave this kind, passionate man his phone number and urged him to call him anytime, day or night, for assistance and advice. Sure enough, when the guy called, my ex told me in no uncertain terms to get the guy off his back. My stomach still turns in knots at the memory.

  12. fiftyandfree

    Oh, and now he’s engaged to a woman who refuses to see the truth about him. My kids have even warned her that their father is lying to her about some things (stuff they have personal knowledge of) and all she can say is, “Your father is a wonderful, Christian man and you’re lucky to have him.” Oh brother. I feel sorry for her and her kids but there’s nothing I can do. She has fallen for his psychopathic charm and has bought all of his lies hook, line and sinker.

    • KayE

      I so relate to this one and the “wonderful Christian man” lie. But I don’t feel sorry for the new woman, because by necessity she will have bought into a great deal of vicious slander about me, She has also become his ally against me.I don’t think I have to feel sorry for anyone who chooses to believe lies when the truth is available.

      • thepersistentwidow

        KayE, I was just reading this last night and it seems applicable to the situation you describe.:

        An evildoer listens to wicked lips,
        and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue. Proverbs 17:4

      • Still Reforming

        Whoa, thepersistentwidow. Whoa.

        That makes me think … what does this say about all of the churches we know and about which we read that tolerate the evildoer – listening to his lips and giving ear to his mischievous tongue? This would make the church… those in the church who do so… evildoers and liars? Perhaps so, because in allowing it (making it the standard they walk past) they are participating in the evil and the lie.

  13. KayE

    Thepersistentwidow, that is a great quote and a very apt description of numerous people involved in this particular situation.

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