Earlier this year on SOTT Talk Radio we spoke with Tim McGregor, co-author with Dr Jane McGregor of The Empathy Trap: Understanding Antisocial Personalities. Tim is a health practitioner with more than 20 years' experience in addiction and sociopathy and Jane is an author and lecturer at the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, UK.

The McGregors prefer the term 'sociopath' over 'psychopath', although their recently published book discusses essentially the same condition, explaining how predators operate, why they're often difficult to spot, and the importance of recognising pathological behaviour for what it is. The Empathy Trap also challenges antisocial behaviour in everyday life and calls for more empathy among normal people, something that can help victims cope with the aftermath of destructive relationships by re-establishing healthy boundaries.

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Transcript:

Niall: Hello and welcome to SOTT Talk Radio. I'm your host Niall Bradley. Together with Joe Quinn, Jason Martin, Juliana and Laura, we're going to be talking tonight about the topic that we've covered a lot of times before and that really cannot get enough coverage.

So, we're going to have on Tim McGregor, the author of a book that we came across recently. The title is: The Empathy Trap: Understanding Antisocial Personalities, and it's co-authored with his wife Dr. Jane McGregor. He's not actually with us just yet...

But anyway, Tim is a freelance consultant, writer and trainer. He's also been a mental heath practitioner in the UK. Dr. Jane McGregor is a lecturer at the University of Nottingham in the UK, and before we get into the book, I think I should start by saying that it's a really good summary of a lot of things that ...

Jason: I think it's a wide coverage of the core concepts. You have to read four or five books, and they'll say all the different things. So that brought a lot of stuff together from what I've looked at.

Niall: Yeah, Exactly. Our listeners are going to be more familiar with much of it. We use the term 'psychopaths' to describe the condition that people have.

The authors of this book prefer to use the term 'sociopath'...

Jason: Well, "a rose by any other name, would smell as sweet." They obviously trying to talk about some sort of phenomenon that's going in the world, and we're noticing a certain type of people and having a lot of trouble finding a name for them. I don't think that the psychological sciences were being very rigorous about the terminology, and that is something that's what we've been complaining about.

Very often, people just coin the term willy-nilly and even the term 'psychopath'... I find a term to talk about those type of people kind of obscene by saying that they are suffer from mind pain?! It's a little weird.

Niall: Yeah. It's what it will directly translate to, but the authors, Tim and Jane McGregor do point out in the book that there is this confusion over definitions... and rather than try to get really deep into that, they do describe the essence of the same illnesses: Psychopaths, sociopaths...

Jason: Yeah, and this is the most important thing. I think that a lot of people get caught up on minutia and details, and they refuse to have a discussion with you. They prefer to argue semantics or some definition thing, when you're talking about a real phenomenon that exists and, therefore, if you don't use the right term, then they will spend hours and hours with you.

Laura: I think they're using the term "psychopath" or "sociopaths" rather, because they're not talking exclusively about the psychopaths.

They're including several other types of disorders under this umbrella, all of which basically have the same, or share many of the same traits, but ultimately the encounter with any one of these personality disorders has pretty much the same effect, follows pretty much the same course. They behave pretty much the same way, because they share certain traits. The main one - Lack of Empathy.

Niall: Exactly. And it's the title of their book. Their point is that empathy is lacking, and what they lack, as they explain in the book, is what can help the rest of us.

Laura: Well, they also talk about the empathy trap as the fact that a person is empathic, empathy makes them a target...

Niall: ...makes them vulnerable.

Laura: ...basically makes them vulnerable. They fall into the trap of their own nature, because they do have feeling, they do feel empathy, and this makes them susceptible.

Jason: Well, would it probably why the effects and the terminology are so similar. It's not because it's something similar about them, it's because there is something similar about the empathic people. Their weaknesses are rather consistent across the board, the ways to manipulate them seem to be consistent, and they seem to be consistent with certain kinds of people they study and tend to exploit.

Niall: Yeah. I think at this point now, there are persons... How do you say it? There are direct tracks now that are well worn by people who are onto this problem, and those who do ... home in on the same essential points, the essence of the problem.

And that's good for them, but they're not going to being drawn into the argument about how exactly to identify them... or how to exactly define the problem, because the first thing that they say is that we acknowledge that this is a very, very difficult problem. It's a new problem for most people.

Laura: Well, in any event, let me talk about this book. I think it was probably a couple of months ago, we got an e-mail from Jane McGregor, and she told us about her book, and asked us if we would be interested in talking to her about it. We told her, "Well, sure, but we would like to read the book first." So, in due course the book arrived. It's not a very big book. It's a small book. And I sat down and read it pretty much in one afternoon. And, of course, most of you, Listeners, know that I've read probably every book on psychopathy that's in existence. I've read endless case studies and other personality disorders: narcissism, any kind of 'clastropy' as it referred by many in the US, but I'm sure that they have a different nomenclature in the UK.

But in any event, as Jason just mentioned a while ago, it really covers a pretty broad spectrum of concepts extracted from numerous books, despite its smallness. They don't get bogged down into trying to describe every characteristic or give you case studies of the psychopaths or different personality disorders, or arguing over designation of the disorder, or how to diagnose. They give you a profile, of course, which, you know, hits the high marks, and then they move onto...

In their profile of the 'psychopaths', they've got, "...first of all, the superficial charm. The sociopath...", and remember that they're talking about numerous types of pathological disorders that they're covering under an umbrella here, "...usually, has a lot to say. A conversation with the sociopath can feel like being bombarded. The main thing about the sociopath is that all their pronouncements are very authoritative. They know absolutely anything about everything, and they know absolute the bottom line truth, and nobody else can gainsay anything they say."

Jason: Or if they try, they do it so ... kind of, "Oh, I could be wrong. Tell me, if I'm wrong." (Jason talks in a pretend voice). And then, of course, you can't. In the certain sense ...

Laura: Because they don't allow you.

Jason: ...it's, kind of, very sophisticated.

Laura: Because if you may suggest that they might be wrong, then you get the next layer of bombardment.

Laura is reading quotes from the book: "They use words and phrases intended to make themselves sound knowledgeable, but wait if you dissect their terminology or their sentences. They prove nothing more than gobbledygook. This peculiarity in the emotive expression can be exacerbated by their use of the muddled up phrases and mixed metaphors". And this is one of the characteristics of these types of personality disorders. And there are a lot of theories about it.

The McGregors don't go to these theories, because this is not a big examination of the personality disorders. It's about the 'empathy trap'.

Laura continues reading from the book: "Sociopaths also come across as very charming the first time you meet them. And in the beginning of any kind of dynamic or a relationship, they go out of their way to please you." They use flattery, and they do a lot to draw you in. They called social chameleons. This is why a lot of people get taking in by them, because it's hard for them to believe that somebody who is so friendly, so charming, so talkative, basically, all of these things that makes them an interesting partner in social conversation, but they really are dangerous. It says, "Targets often later remark that they were overwhelmed by the sociopaths' charm offensive. He may seem larger than life, a go-getter, a hero, an adventurer. They're grandiose. They have smooth conversations. And when you in their presence, you will feel that you in the presence of someone who is very special, super-hero type of person.

Jason: Yeah.

[Laura quotes from the book again] "They usually make ordinary people feel boring and insipid." And these people want to attach themselves to this hero, because it makes them feel like there is something in their lives that is more exciting.

So, they go on to say to describe some of the other traits of the sociopaths - a need for the stimulation. "They need constant stimulation. They become bored easily. Their heads are not full of the kinds of emotions that distract the rest of us. They have very limited emotional range and are known for their shallowness and fleeting attachments. They have a parasitic life style. To someone targeted by a sociopath with strong parasitic tendencies, it can feel quite literally as if life being sucked out of you.

They behave with passive aggression, victimization, blaming others, self-pity, withholding information, withholding things", or an idea is just, basically, of withholding, "learned helplessness", and then, manipulator.) They are manipulators. And this manipulation means that they can control victim through positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement. They can use praise, superficial charm, sympathy. They can cry with you, make excessive apologies, give you money, approval, gifts, attention, that sort of thing. And that's the positive reinforcement that they use to control people.

Negative reinforcement is something like, for example: you won't to have to pay all those bills, if you allow me to move in with you. Yet the other means of partial reinforcement used to create a climate of fear and doubt. And, of course, they use punishment: nagging, intimidation, threats, swearing, emotional blackmail, crying, playing the victim, etcetera.

'"A sociopathic manipulator can cause you to believe you're going crazy." If you find yourself in the relationship, where you think you need to keep a record of what's been said, because things keep changing and one thing gets said today and, "Why? I didn't say that," and something else gets said tomorrow or...

"He lies so smoothly and argues so persuasively that you begin to doubt your own senses. Over period of time this is so eroding that it can distort your sense of reality. The sociopath can make you feel guilty for speaking up or for not speaking up, for being emotional or for being not emotional enough, for caring or for not caring enough. The manipulation of the sociopath is a powerful strategy, because most of us are conditioned to check ourselves, and we usually are our own worst critics. If accused of being in a wrong or acting imperfectly, we'll do whatever necessary to reduce our feelings of guilt."

Jason: Yeah.

Niall: Something the McGregors develop later on in the book is a concept called 'SEAT': The Sociopath - Empath - Apath Triad, a kind of dynamic they describe.

Laura: It's really interesting. It's one of the better parts of the book, I think.

Joe: We have a caller on the line here... Hi, caller. What's your name, and where are you calling from?

Caller # 1: Susan from California.

Joe: Susan, can you hold the line for just one second? We finally have Tim on another line here. He's our interviewee today, so I can't put him off any longer!

Hi! Is that Tim?

Tim McGregor: Hello! Yes, it's me.

Jason: Hi, Tim.

Welcome to the show and sorry for the problems we've been having here. We're been just going through your book, reading a few excerpts, and discussing it.

Jason: Good to have you here.

Tim: I'm glad I got through. Thank you.

Niall: Tim, thanks for agreeing to come on today. We really enjoyed the book you co-authored with Dr. Jane McGregor. I've already introduced the book a bit, and Laura read some from it to our listeners. A lot of our listeners we'll be pretty familiar with the topic, because we've talked about it and discussed it on our website over the years and here on SOTT Talk Radio. And we really like it. It's a neat little book. So, I thought I would begin by asking you how it is that you began to research this topic, was it from your personal experience? Was it your personal background?

Tim: Yeah. That was a little bit of both. Both myself and Jane, my wife, we've come across these types of people through kind of personal... in our families. And one of the reasons we've started it was that we were just trying to help our son who had been exposed to someone who had shown this of kind of behaviour. So, It's just started... cause' the main thing for us was that we were just tying to help people dealing with these types of individuals. We're not really dealing with sociopaths themselves. It's really trying to help those affected by them. And there's not many books lately out there, so often there's talks about the idea of the sociopath, the psychopath, and not looking at the impact they have and what helped or not, you know. So, we're really kin that we can try and help people.

Niall: Ok. That's excellent. Because, as you've pointed out, a lot of material is geared towards addressing the core of the problem, which is: who are these people, where do they come from, and what makes them tick?

Laura: Can we take this call really quick and see what she would like to ask? Because I want to come back to the discussion of this, this S-E-A-T triad, because I find this to be one of the keys.

Joe: Ok. Hi, Susan?..

Susan: Yes, hello. I know too well what you are talking about. I was married to a bipolar sociopath abuser who did gaslighting... and everything you came from. From it, my children came out in different ways. And then, I could share with you that... cause' I would like to know from the author what happens to the children of this? And the next person I met, cause' I wanted help for my son... also someone said I'm empathic. I don't know if I am or not, but the thing is I met a psychic, an energy vampire. And from it, I was with that person for a year and a half... If you can understand it, I did... that I was hypnotized by the... It's very fast by being with him in a moment and then hypnotized on a telephone, and I didn't know... But he brought out the gifts I didn't know I had. So, these people are empathic. I thought he has... had everything to help somebody, but he knew everything what he could use to manipulate me. Reiki master, an empath. I now think he was a sociopath. And he finds people that he uses for his purpose. And I thought he was indigo child. So, they deprogram you...

Laura: So, what's your question?

Susan: Oh! My question is that when a child's gone through this form or me, how do you overcome it? You know, my kid, my son... I'm reaching out for. He developed where he can't... his emotions... he's having a hard time dealing with... and so, from it, you can become ADD, or you can become eating disorders, or you just don't know, don't understand it.

Laura: Ok. Tim, do you want to answer that question?

Tim: There are two parts for that. The first one is, we've tried to deal with those, I think. I'm so pleased that you feel that you are so empathetic. I'm pleased that you've managed to get over that relationship, cause' obviously by the looks how you've managed it... With children we deal with various fears. The first fear is, if you're in the relationship with... and the child that you'd be concerned, we cover things with the welfare of the child. You need to make sure that a child would be safe. We're looking at how to help a child. We're also looking at this kind of the relatives. So, we look at all those as well. So, I think within the... How we can help children to move forward?

Because lots of things with children are in terms of increasing the physical contact. There are some ideas of improved eye contact. There are lots of ideas. You've probably read in a book a little bit about ideas that are kind of ... Just try to use empathy, and try actually solve, develop 'I', build 'I', and try actually get on to your child, so if they maybe not experienced empathy, and it's like contagious empathy. You want to actually try and do those. You know we've got lot's of things [in a book] dealing with stigma. And those are being bold and taking responsibility. And also follow your instinct. A lots of times, you're feeling that what you're doing is a right thing. I mean, going back to the point you've made about you're exposed to some individuals. I mean, that's part I was trying to make people aware of. If they do come across of the sociopath or psychopath, and it sounds like that you have...he's been playing games. And what we're trying to do in a book is actually try to recognize when that's happening. And I can talk in a minute about this SEAT in terms of the relationship, cause' that's something that it's quite new, and I think with children, there are ways forward. You know we're trying to look through, and there are lots of support groups out there. Like, for example, Jane, my wife, uses some of them on Facebook. There is one in particular, for the children of narcissistic sociopaths. So, [that] support group has been very helpful. I would hope from this session, there is hope out there, but if, as I said, if you got those children [that match these things] and if you're concerned, check their welfare, check if there's been exposure. There's lots of...

Susan: But we know that he has. He's 23 now, and the therapists don't understand us at all. They don't know how to understand it, and he became addicted to other things, because of this behaviour he was subjected to.

Tim: Yeah. Yeah. Because they can't understand, they often do... Those children are dealing with the substance issues or eating disorders. And again, we're looking into that. Some of the substances issues ... the books are not going to cover all these specifics of substance issues. But we're trying then point people to where they can get help with those types of issues. The thing is...

Laura: There is a chapter on that n the book: 'Dealing with Complex Family Situations'.

And there is also an appendix of useful addresses where you can make contact, and start your research for getting help. That's really part of the book.

Tim: Absolutely.

Laura: So, we would really, really recommend that you get this book. It's not a big book. It's not an expensive book. It's really easy to read. And it really drives home some important points, so...

Joe: So, I think it would be really good starting point.

Laura: Yeah, a very good starting point.

Susan: Well, I'm learning now how to keep away from that behaviour, but what good thing I want to share is one thing that came out of it with me, after being year and half with this person, is that finally when I heard the voice of my ex-husband and this individual, cause' they are very good at deceiving you, but what came out of it after I got out of the addiction, cause' I was enchained by this person for that many years, not physically, but enchained by your mind that I see the truth in people. So, it's just hard to explain to a therapist different things. They just won't get it. It's just that's what you live with it afterwards. You get it. And, yeah, I understand it. Even if I read your book and I would say, "Yes, yes, yes"...

...but how do you explain it to the other one, so that people, they understand your kid, cause' your kid... It's hard for them even to understand it, and even if they do understand what your dad did and accept it, it's how to get over these emotions inside you, and understand that you couldn't do anything about it, and what's came out of it in a certain way. He...

Jason: Maybe, you should get him to read a book too?

Susan: Yeah. Reading a book, it's not something that comes out of it. It's emotional. And when he gets this emotional emptiness, if you understand that, a hole inside you, and you feel it up in whole different ways.

Food and then bingeing, and then, marijuana and... It could be shopping. It could be anything. It could be sex and OCD. All of this comes from...

What people don't realize when you're surviving something, you act one way. When you free... Ah! All these things come up.

Tim: What we're trying to do with those, we do take some things, similar things from other psychological... like addictions. We're trying to bring some of those evidence based things. So, we're looking for preventing relapse, in terms of the judgement.

Looking at high risk. Looking and identifying your moods. New ways to deal with these things. Looking at how it happens. Looking at your triggers. Most of those things that we touch on... and again... and the people need more. It could be that a therapist as well (Tim's chuckling) needs to understand this is well.

And we're just trying to make people understand that we need to build, and not just individuals, but as a society, we need to try to build and trying to make people more empathetic to actually trying help. You know, the carers need to be understanding this as well.

Susan: How's your son get over it? I mean, I want to know if there is help there? I mean, what he was subjected to. Is that what happened? I don't need it to be too personal with you.

Tim: No, no. That's what we've tried to (Tim's chuckling)... not too much those personal details, but from the experience that we've had. What we've had to do, we probably will touch later on, and some things are actually to reduce time with these individuals...

Susan: Yes.

Tim: ...and build very clear boundaries. And then once you've done that, then try to actually solve, manage yourself internally and help your family. So, we've solved. We really tried with kindness and empathy, and caring. And that's what we want to build, and that can then bring those on. If someone has been exposed to these individuals, empathy can help bring them through, you know, bring them somewhat positive outcome. So, we absolutely, we can help people bring a way to move forward. And that's why we've done it, to really just to see if we can help. And I really hope that it can help your son as well.

Susan: Thank you.

Tim: What people that have been on these Facebook groups... We've shared some of these chapters, cause' we use a lot of specifics of care.

Susan: I wouldn't mind that, if you put your information, because I know other people that have this. And the thing is, this is like, when after you've gone through abuse, your physical, mental and any of this behaviour, when you bond with other people, you vibrate it.

Tim: Yeah.

Susan: And so, those people can fear, and you don't realize it, so that people come out of it wanting to help others like myself, and there is others who know how to be more manipulative then... They come out of it in a different way. You understand that the victim may become, or a person that gone through it, can become a manipulator or... but the spiritual and loosing trust... cause' when a child feels... a parent who acted that way towards the child, they have very hard time to trust somebody, or a woman who's gone through it, meets the 'spiritual' person that you trust them.

And then you lose your trust...

Tim: Susan, can I speak how to try to identify those people, and then, how can you spot them? How can you avoid them? How can you remove them from your life? And then, how to move forward with your life. And that's what we're trying to do.

Susan: Well, for me, I don't like people to touch my hand anymore. That's what happened. He touched my hand, and he got my energy, and that's pretty much worked. But, you know, it's not just touch. You can get into a person's mind, body, voice - anything.

There are other people who probably want to talk, so I'll let you go. Thank you so much.

Joe: Thank you for your call, Susan. .

Susan: OK. Bye-bye.

Joe: Tim, we actually have another call here. Hi Caller, what's your name and where you calling from? Hello?

Caller # 2: Hi, can you hear me?

Joe: Hi. Yes.

Caller #2: Ok. It's Patricia. To the previous caller...

Niall: Hi, Patricia.

Patricia: ...I'd like to say...you know, trying to tell someone that you were a victim of a narcissist or a psychopath, whatever; most people aren't going to understand it. I think that she'll get most support talking to people that have been through that.

The reason I'm calling is, I was in the relationship with someone who was a narcissist, and it was pretty traumatic. Yeah. The thing is that I've learned a lot from it. But from looking into it now, I've realized that on the global scale that we have what they call those corporate psychopaths that are actually ruining the economy, the Wall Street people, that kind of thing. So, that's much bigger thing. These people...

Joe: Absolutely.

Patricia: ...get in into all these corporations. They rise to the top of the thing, because they have no fear. You know, how they'll do a billion dollar short sale, or whatever they do, to make a lot of money, so they're ruining our economy. So, I think it's vital that people understand what these people are capable of. I mean, they can ruin relationships. They can damage your trust.

I'm getting over that, but some people!..

Joe: They can also damage your country.

Patricia: Yeah, yeah. This is what's happening on the global scale.

Joe: Absolutely.

Patricia: This is what's wrong with the economy... and the EU and all that kind of stuff over there. So, that's much bigger thing than on individual level.

For people who had been through it, I think they get the most from other people who had been through it. Because I tell some of my friends what I went through, and they wandered why I'd stayed so long. That's not going to help me, you know.

So, I've tried to educate them somewhat, but you just going to get kicked by your friends, if (Patricia is laughing) you tell them about the stuff you went through.

Tim: Yeah. I think it highlights one of the things we're trying to do: is trying to understand when people do put their head above pot and see this isn't right. And that's been one of the key parts that we do need to encourage people to see. Hang on a minute, this isn't right! We need to be doing something about it. Now, obviously, with corporate that's more difficult, but we still have to identify whether the thing is with a sociopath, and how we can actually spot them? And actually what can we do? And with some individuals, you know, what we are trying to hear is trying to understand how, obviously, we need to make society much more so empathetic, if we can put it in that way, and actually much more considering and caring. So, we actually have more equal society, but even when you're talking about it to your friends, sometimes that can be described as what we have described before as the SEAT: sociopath, empath and apath, sometimes people are apathetic. Sometimes they blame you. They don't want to see what these people are doing. Maybe, they don't want to be worried about it, and actually put their head above the pot. We find that is a big proportion of the population are like that. So, sometimes people don't want to do anything because they just want to keep the things the same, and that's where a lot of this type of misinteraction happens. I can talk about it in more detail in a minute.

Laura: Let me give a little introduction to Tim here on this topic, because then I'll get you right into it as quickly as possible. Earlier in the book, they write about the story of The Emperor's New Clothes...

Tim: Absolutely.

Laura: ...and all of you probably know the story, which is... There were a couple of con-artists who came to the kingdom at some point in time, and they claimed that they could make these wonderful fabulous clothes. They then spent all this time doing it and producing basically nothing. They were pretending sewing the air and cutting garments, cutting fabric and so forth. So, they made the Emperor's... And the whole thing was based around the fact that the Emperor and these self-assured con-artists... First of all, they completely duped him. He was in the position of authority, and they were authoritative in their speech. It was, basically, if you can't see Emperor's clothes, then something is wrong with you and the only person in the kingdom who actually had the courage to say, "but the Emperor is naked!" was a child who just saw that was obvious. So, this story that they've got this idea from is about the Sociopath - Empath - Apath Triad. And all of those people who would be going along with the con-artists, the sociopaths...

Tim: Yes.

Laura: ...and the Emperor who was the authority figure would be the apaths: people who go along with, who don't care enough.

Tim: ... obviously what it was in Hans Christian Anderson's famous fable - if you can't see the clothes, you either must be stupid or you're unfit for your positions. So, everyone was worried about it, "Why I can't see anything? So, am I unfit for this? Or am I stupid?" So, you're right. What the little boy was, we think, what we describe as an empath. He was the one who actually had the kind of courage to stand up and say it. Everyone said, "Oh, the King, the Emperor looks wonderful!" And he said, "No, he has no clothes on."

Now, what we're looking at - the idea was that this is kind of seat, the kind of the social pattern. And, if we can describe it just briefly, the sociopath we describe as someone, in a very loose term, who has no conscious or very little empathy. Zero empathy to be honest, and sometimes we're talking about their human kinds, mind this, the Cains (Tim's laughing), but... You know there are well known ones. We then talk about the empath who's someone who's got a high level of empathy, who sees the situation and so forth, and then challenges it, but they often can be at risk of being targeted by the sociopath, cause' they see them as someone's challenging them, cause' the sociopaths, as some of your callers have said, they may lie, they may make up things, because of no empathy. They don't have consciousness. They can manipulate. And they have superficial charm.

And then, the other in this triad is an apath. And what we describe as the apaths is the people that are apathetic that either blame, or they anxious, or maybe fearful, or they lack of interest, and they're [maybe] unconcerned for the person who's targeted. So, the sociopath, and we've seen that it may be one in a hundred or maybe four in a hundred. Then, you got the other end of the spectrum - the empath. He has lots of empathy. And then you've got the majority of the population in between the apaths and the empaths. They are kind of the people as in The Emperor's New Clothes. They don't want to look stupid, so they say, "Oh, yes! Your clothes look wonderful!" and the little boy is the empath. He says, "No, there are no clothes on!" And you have to have this kind of triad. This is quite new. We're trying actually as how can we make (and the challenge for this is, and I'm speaking for scientists) an apath to see, so the majority of the population actually maybe more aware of this issues: actually, looking at the interaction between the sociopath and apath, cause' often a sociopath will actually trying to prevent an apath, trying to get him as their 'foot soldiers". And often, when the empath does challenge him, the sociopath is ready to get some of the apaths. They're maybe fearful. Their job is... They maybe don't want to challenge their boss, and we need actually trying to get them to see, you know. It's fascinating. If you look at literature, we all love to see when the person, who's actually challenging things, who actually say, "That's wrong!" Then society, quite often, a large part of society doesn't challenge that. We might describe them as a kind of the apaths who do not want to do anything out of fear or anxiety, or the sociopaths bullied other people into believing them, if that makes sense.

Jason: Well. So, I would like to say that the description given by Tim reminds me of Bob Altemeyer's work on authoritarian followers. He did an extensive series of research...

Laura: Are you familiar with that?

Jason: ...and what he called right wing authoritarians or the people who just sort of go along. It's just great, great books, and he's got a couple of them: Enemies of Freedom and...

Laura: The Authoritarians.

Joe: Are you familiar with that book, Tim?

Tim: No, but the similar things are the Milgram experiment, when they actually looked at people giving people electroshocks.

And often people when they're actually being told by someone in authority to do something, and even though, the common things, the ethics, often, when people, actually, when someone in authority says you have to do this, it's fascinating the amount of people (not that they can be the apaths) that, actually, when they have been told, "You have to do this," actually go ahead and kill people, and do these electric shocks in that experiment, because they were told they that have to do it. And that is the problem.

Laura: Yeah. Who did that experiment?

Jason: Milgram, was that Stanford prison experiment? There were a couple of them.

Joe: Yeah.

Laura: He took that work, and took it to the next level talking about, exactly what you talking about, which is these apaths. And I just find these to be fascinating, because you got here in your book, and it says, "The apath is the type of person mostly likely to do the sociopath's bidding. Being apathetic in that situation means showing lack of concern or being indifferent to the targeted person."

"The apaths are an integral part of the sociopath's arsenal..." I think that is extremely important, "...and contributes to the sociopathic abuse, and the sociopaths have uncanny knack of knowing who will assist them in bringing down the person they are targeting." And you know this triad as you've described... What, did you guys just come up with it yourselves?

Tim: Yeah. Well, it's was just...It actually started at the dining at the moment. And it was as we were having dinner one night, and we were trying to think about this. And the key thing was thinking more, and as I said in the beginning of the book, to really trying to help, to help those exposed. So we were trying to think what...? We knew people who were very empathetic. We had come across people who were sociopaths, and then we think, "Well, what will the rest of the people do?" So, we've came across, and which is this thing that we have quite good understanding. And what we can do? And not just, individually, how we can help the apaths? We need to help them actually. And all of us were happy as we understand with groups, all of friends and family, who we can see, perhaps, in some of those roles. And how we can help the apaths and empaths fend off and manage the sociopaths. And a lot of times, it was quite a bit, because actually empathy can actually help to build. It's contagious, you know. We can actually... the more empathetic, it can help us with the apaths. But we need to help. And it's fascinating. And there is a lot to this idea of as some spectrum of empathy. And people can move, the apath... No one's fixed. Some people think that a sociopath has no empathy at all. There are some studies we're looking at recently that they maybe able to switch on. But they just might be acting. But the majority of apaths can shift from where they are. They can move along the spectrum. They can become more empathetic, and that's part of this is. One of the things we're talking about is children. This, actually, is trying to teach children in schools how to become more empathetic. So, there is no one who teaches that... So, hopefully then we'll deal with some... So this is obviously idealized, but if we can try to get more people to actually any kind of apaths as we describe, and the apaths are sort of like 6% of the population. And then you've got the extremes on the other end.

Joe: Do you think that the apaths can actually be taught empathy? In a way that you are describing it? Or do you think that they would simply, in a same way, follow the herd now with this kind of psychopathic elite? Do you think that they would simply just follow the kind of benevolent leader and do what a society does? Or they can actually learn it from the point of view of actually being able to create or manifest...

Laura: ...actualize it independently.

Joe: ...empathy with them?

Tim: Well, people... A lot of the scientists now are actually looking at how people can move and change, and we're trying to look at this. We've been thinking about this in terms of society. Society is becoming more empathetic. People are becoming more tolerant or less violent. So, it's a lot more challenging. There is a lot more kind of social justice. So, people, I think, now are becoming more empathetic.

Tim: And they think more about other people rather than in the past. I mean, even thinking of the things like is how to avoid child's sex abuse. Maybe, 20-30 years ago people wouldn't have challenged it. But as people in the UK, and I'm sure in other countries, are much more challenging now, and actually...

Tim: And then, maybe, people are putting themselves more into those situations like this isn't great. I need to do something about it. But, when I was growing up, and I'm now in my forties, often, there was stories, and people may not actually were talking about those things. So, if you may, and I suppose that's one of the advantages of your program, is that society is becoming more empathetic? I'm thinking that may be. And we are, as I said, because we are so more tolerant, and we're actually are thinking more in terms of, like gay marriages. So, it's like people are being much more thinking about a kind of equality and about all of those types of things.

There are lots of things going on here, but going back to your point, we can help, if we have to talk more, and that's one of the reasons. If anything comes out of this book, if we can get people to talk more about empathy, and what it means, and think can we build on it little bit more, then that would be great, if we can get people to talk about dialog, cause' when we're talking, people were totally talking about it very much.

Tim: And another thing, people need to be talking about it in school and stuff. So, I think, if we can get more people to talk about it, then, hopefully, that can all going to be a good thing.

Juliana: But in the meantime, Tim related to the problem of apaths... Would you say that there is some kind of division between people who are born apath, for example, they've never cared really about others when they were children without being psychopathic themselves and those who were made apathetic by the fact that they had suffered a lot of trauma or they were really, really terrorized by fear, terror, because sometimes it's, and I don't know what you think, but it's kind of hard to, when you look around and you see people who don't seem to care, and no matter what you say and how much suffering is around in the world? And there are, on the other hand, those who start caring whether they learn about psychopaths from direct experience or they realize what's going on in the world from learning about it from a larger scale point of view.

What do you think about it? Can people be born apathetic while others can change?

Tim: No. I think that the thing I'll bring back about the society rather than so dealing with it, in kind of the terms of, is the empathy spectrum and not... But there're lots of ideas around at the moment about how people self-learn, how they actually self-understand. And what I suppose what we're trying to get people to understand, if you concerned, and we do look a little bit about it. If you concerned and, maybe, if you got a child that maybe is showing some of those things, and there's lots of kind of diagnostics. But what we are trying to say? What could you do? You get some advice in a book about it. What I think what you need to do is probably identify that child within a triad and then do something about it. And then there are some ideas about, you know, having more personal contact, having better eye contact, cause' there's lots of theories and thoughts at the moment about this idea about the mirror neurons, people's learning behaviours. And that what's with the children: they are learning how to react to another by learning from their parent. Now, if their parent maybe doesn't show any emotion, has no empathy for others, does that mean that a child would learn that way of responding? So, then we've changing that, so as for the child would learn more about empathy and actually to be shown empathy, and to actually have more kind of what some of the researchers describe as better eye contact, better contact. So, you know, there's probably... We're trying to find a way, how do you move these children forward. So, we're trying to describe what... The thing that is at the moment in terms of having a sociopath, empath and apath, but how to actually shift that, so we have more empath and less...

Joe: So, will it be true to say that instead of taking that top down approach, which a lot of people take in terms of combating what's called the psychopathic elite and the evil of government, corrupt government, etcetera, instead of attacking at that level, you're talking about trying to change it from the bottom up by creating, by appealing to parents to be more aware of children to spot these cases?

Tim: Yeah. But also a society as a whole does need to understand that there are those people over there who said from various sources that are sociopaths with no conscious ability. We need to be able to spot them. And how do we actually then manage them in our own lives, cause' the thing that to remember, and often, because there's very little conscious, no empathy, they're not going to change. How do we individually change? How do we respond to them? How does the society respond to them? Because if we're saying there's no consciousness or empathy, they'll just keep doing what they're doing, but we, as a society, how do we respond to those?

Laura: Well, going back to the story of the Emperor's New Clothes, one of the problems I think we're facing is that the society itself are a social construction, our social standards, the way governments are set up, and bureaucracies and so forth, they're all are psychopathic or sociopathic to great extent. So, that corresponds to the Emperor himself being taking in by psychopathic con job.

Tim: Yeah.

Jason: I wanted to say something earlier on that, because Tim there was saying that society, maybe, has become more empathic, and one of reasons which he listed was that people have less of the tolerance for violence, and I was going to say that, "Well ...

Tim: Well...

Jason: ...in a certain sense." I don't know if that means they are more empathic. I see that people are more... What's the word for it? "Gun shy", in a certain sense. They can't handle violence at all. And they just don't want it to happen, but they don't want to have it in their town. It's more like...

Laura: But they don't care if it happens somewhere else...

Jason: Yeah.

Laura: ...if it's not here.

Jason: It's not really about being empathetic, it's about not having their lives interrupted or disturbed with something. They don't want to be stopped from what they're doing.

Tim: Yes. That's what's described as the same as an apath. Yes, the fear. They might not want to challenge, because they're fearful. They don't want to change, because this way if you have got a difficult boss... Well, we just give a few examples for you. If you got a difficult boss, do you want to challenge him? Are you worried about loosing your job? And this is the same thing with society, because, obviously, the society may have the government, as well may have enough kind of... Do we challenge that? And I think that's part of this - that dialogue for people to think about challenging what we're doing and, to try to... Can we have it differently? Have things a different way?

Jason: Well, I just also want to point out what we were talking about that whenever or not the apath can be taught to be empathic that Altemeyer did do a study in that vein, actually. He put these people that he called the authoritarians, and he measured how they perform after they participated in a more liberal college environment, a different environment and tested them after, and he saw positive results. And then, he actually repeated the experiment, and he followed up much later, and he found that actually once they had left the environment and in back into the authoritarian area that they have basically reverted exactly back to what they were.

Laura: So basically they respond to the environment more than anything else.

Jason: Yeah, it's like what Tim was saying...

Laura: Peer pressure.

Jason: It's like better contact, like eye contact, to people, better emotive contact: looking at people's faces and seeing, detecting emotions, seeing people express positive emotions, it does kind of like rub off on them, but of course, once they re-enter a negative environment, then those negative kind of sociopathic, narcissistic things that make them apathic, and again, they just can't deal with it, they fall back into it. So, obviously, continual exposure is probably the most important thing, at least, that's what I kinda get from it...

Laura: Well, yeah. It's kind of like, I think the chief thing about it and the bottom line is that they want an authority who's going to be responsible for them, and who sets the example for them, and whatever authority is present is just the one they're going to follow, and if they don't have a good example, if they don't have a benevolent authority, then they're going to follow a negative one.

Jason: I think that they fall in two groups as well, you know.

Tim: Yeah...

Jason: You're going to go ahead, Tim.

Tim: Yeah. One of the things is to trying to build up. There's lot's of practical steps as well to try, cause' I'm talking about some of the points that you're saying in terms of actual environment, but we still do need to actually... Recovery is possible. And that's one of the things we're trying actually to look at. One of the recovery issues in lot's of the other areas of self-help and social care. And we're trying to say, we're trying to pull in the examples from elsewhere, so they can see actually what is actually there. So, we're looking at ... we want ideally... we would want more empaths. We want to build up those, so we're trying to find ways. So, it's how to deal with day-to-day stuff, looking at, as I was talking with one of the callers, that we're looking at preventing relapses. We can always handle those situations, all of those things, and then, dealing with the former. And if we can try, it's a step by step process. It's going to take a long period of time, and there are lots of people looking at this part. And what we're trying to do is looking at how we can help the individuals. We can look at... We can help. We can look at the scientists, looking at what they're doing, but we also need to look at how we can help the individual day-to-day, who were exposed to sociopaths, and how can they... Because one of the other things we are concerned about is that often the people have, particularly, lots of major health problems, so, probably, by being exposed to a sociopath in the past. It has a huge impact on the health community and the health provision. So, we want to actually try to help people, so they don't end up becoming unwell mentally or physically.

Laura: So, that's the beauty of this little book, because it's like Sociopathy 101 for the average person who is suffering in the situation they don't understand. It laid everything out in a clear plain language. It gives wonderful examples. The name of the book again is the Empathy Trap: Understanding Antisocial Personalities and...

Joe: ...it's on Amazon, right?

Laura: Yeah. You can get it on Amazon, I'm pretty sure.

Tim: Yeah.

Laura: It just covers the whole spectrum of things. And talks about dealing with family situations. What you do if you have children? How to identify it? How to get yourself out of it? How to recover at the end? Dealing with the stigma, because that's a big thing. A lot of people who've been in a sociopathic relationship, they're kind of like shell-shocked. They got PTSD, and they want to talk about it. And people don't want to hear it. They don't want to hear them to talk about it. They blame them. They shame them. That's the big part - is the blaming and shaming. And so, this little book really, really gives some good pointers. I don't think anybody would regret buying and reading it, because it is excellent.

Jason: It's one of the best books.

Tim: Well, thank you very much for that.

Laura: Yeah.

Niall: I think our first caller, Susan from California, she's sounding kind of shell-shocked...

Laura: Yeah. She does.

Niall: ...and it was still so raw for her. So, she was saying, "Yeah, well. Ok, get the book, read the book, but how do I fix it now?" She's still in that stage, right? But, if you're still listening, Susan, I think that something that would be on top of my list would be to find a good psychotherapist or counsellor who is aware of the scale or the depth of this issue.

Joe: Well, yeah. She said it herself, she's in therapy. Well, if the therapists aren't working, look for someone else, and also we would probably recommend anybody that Martha Stout recommends, because she has a list, I think on the back of her book The Sociopath Next Door. So, that's a pointer for, maybe, a better therapist or a list of better therapists that are more...

Juliana: ...and Sandra Brown as well.

Laura: Yeah. Tim, have you read Sandra Brown's Women Who Love Psychopaths?

Tim: No. We did not, but we are looking at some of those types of issues as well. Because we actually are looking at and writing up something else at the moment. With families as well, and looking at women. So, that's what I'll take away, and I'll look into that. Yeah.

Laura: Yeah, we had her on 2-3 weeks ago. And we had a pretty good discussion, because she's done an actual study and found that there are many traits in common amongst the people who got taken in by a sociopathic relationship, that they scored very high on this and very low on that, and these traits actually exactly matched, or, in a complimentary way, the traits of the sociopath or the psychopath... which is a fascinating thing, because it is almost as though a sociopath targets the most empathic.

Tim: Exactly. Yeah. I'm sorry, that's why there is the SEAT, the triad... because often they can and will target those, because they're either are challenged, or they see them as a challenge. And as I said, it can be a game, when they actually can, and often it is, when there people who are empathetic. We've come across people who actually don't seem to attract the sociopaths, but that is, probably, because they are actually challenging them enough. We think that maybe when the sociopaths talk initially, they're lying, so that they can actually manipulate the empath who challenges them, and, as I said, that's what this book is actually trying to look at. And often then, a sociopath can combat the empath, and then what will happen is that the apath would be brought into that, and so the empath often is the most targeted one. So, there are similarities what you have described there, and that's what we are doing. And it's actually how can we...? And that's what I suppose we've tried... How can we help people identify that they are being exposed to a sociopath, that they're actually being lied to, and they're actually dealing with someone like that, trying to spot them? And then do something about it.

Laura: Well, if you don't know Sandra, we can arrange an introduction, and you guys can chat...

Tim: That will be good. Yeah.

Laura: Across the Atlantic there.

Tim: Absolutely. That would be wonderful. Yeah.

Jason: On the topic of victim selection, I've always sort of like looked at it like: evil seems to always wants to, you know... There's all these stories like the evil satanic priest always wants to sacrifice the virgin type of thing. And, I think, they actually even intentionally seek out empathic people, because it's almost more fun for them to crush somebody like that than it is to do someone like an apath. I mean, it's not really about...

Tim: Yes.

Jason: ...the easy thing. It's the game. They want to game you. They want to win. They want the...

Laura: ...the excitement.

Jason: Yes, it's the excitement for them.

Tim: Yeah.

Jason: And that corrupting and harming someone who can't be harmed, whether the apath, it's just sort of like the shell shocked and hardly...

Tim: Yeah. Absolutely. And we've talked about the sociopath, and there are lots of things such as superficial charm, but it's their need for stimulation. Yeah, it can be a game, because they don't have any conscious. You know it's just a game for them. You know they can lie, they can manipulate, and often, when they are doing that to the person who does have empathy, who does care, he does actually whatever these things, and that as something that we've described a 'sociopathic dance'. And absolutely, we need to help people. And that's really what we... cause' what I come from myself, the health care background, and initially I've had passions trying to help people to actually manage those situations.

Laura: Do you teach classes?

Tim: No, cause' this book just came out in the last two weeks. But we are looking at providing some training, so professionals know how to do this.

Laura: Right.

Tim: And in the UK, there's very little that actually had been done on this. We are looking at providing training, and that's what we're looking at over the next couple of month, so how we can manage that, and I've been interested to know from yourself or anyone else, so if there's anyone else doing similar types of training.

Laura: Sandra is doing that. She has programs that go in and teach police, policemen how to recognize the signs of this kind of abuse.

Tim: Yeah.

Jason: Absolutely.

Laura: She teaches social workers, legal professionals, judges, lawyers, even goes into hospitals and teaches the hospital personal how to counsel, how to recognize this sort of things.

Tim: Absolutely. We are...

Laura: She's got a pretty good program.

Tim: No, that's good. That's what we're looking at. And this is one of the points in the book that I was hopeful to get. You know we're trying to get as widely as possible to all of those health and social care workers, but also in presence as well in terms of...

Laura: Aha.

Tim: ...those people, so they can understand those types of behaviours, cause' obviously the present population has kind of the higher than the normal the expected levels of the sociopaths. So, we need to get those in presence as well as in our own community to do that, so after and again... cause' that's what we need to see, we need to make sure that society as a whole is actually having that conversations and actually talking about empathy, talking about the impact as it has, which is, and when you were talking about it, and a lot of these people have the shame and anxiety. They can have fear of others. When you start looking into this, you can actually start to see and listen lot's of other people, then you've got to be careful out there (Tim's laughing), because not all of society is like that. We're just trying to help people actually identify it. Yeah.

Niall: Well, something that you've pointed out in a book is the way that this is almost formulaic how the sociopath - empath - apath triad works as a kind of a dynamic. And so, first of all, a sociopath does or says something evil. The empath challenges the sociopath. And then, it's back to the sociopath who throws others off the scent and shifts the blame to the empath, and only then the apath plays his role by corroborating the sociopathic perspective.

You've said that nearly every time that you see this, it plays out the same.

Laura: This is the way it plays.

Niall: It's almost like the pathology is so predictable...

Laura: ...it's quite shocking.

Tim: Yeah.

Joe: It's a valuable insight as well.

Jason: It's a valuable insight.

Niall: That's a great learning tool.

Joe: A learning tool. Yeah.

Niall: Just for people to come aware of it.

Jason: The reason we are going with this, because of my question I had on this thing. Tim, have you ever read any of Cialdini's work? He's a social psychologist from Arizona.

Tim: No. I can't say I have. If you can give me the details... Like, what it's about?

Jason: Well, the interesting thing is I read salesmen's literature. You know how salesmen manipulate people, and he is a social psychologist who studies how salesmen, high pressure salesman manipulate into buying goods and stuff. And he breaks everything down to a lot of mechanical things that they work on people consistently. And, of course, he's not talking about psychopaths and sociopaths. But if you just sort of take his stuff out and you apply, you can see there's a lot of mechanisms as he talks about that like the sortie and social proof, which is a kind of like what you're talking about with apaths. The sociopath collects...

Tim: Yeah.

Jason: ...apaths with them to corroborate them, so they can basically social proof somebody, gaslight them by getting corroborators from...

Laura: Yeah. They have their own travelling clappers, so to say.

Jason: Yeah.

Tim: Yeah.

Jason: ...and the superficial charm...

Tim: Yeah, yeah.

Jason: Cialdini talks about the likeness game: I'm like you or you like me. And then I make myself likable, so that's a superficial charm game, and about how people start committing to things because they want to become consistent with themselves. They don't want to waffle, so they... Once they've become sociopath's friend or agree to do something, then they are less likely to back out. And the sociopath presses them and things like this. So, it's kind of like an interesting little book from that perspective.

Tim: Yeah.

Laura: You might get some insights for your next book.

Tim: Absolutely! And it's just triggered something, when you've mentioned the gaslighting several times, that's exactly what you'll be familiar with.

Niall: Yes. What is that?

Tim: So, this is an idea of that kind of... And we can see that this is a similar pattern that you can see also in terms of friendship groups where that maybe that's three phases of idealization. They are very attentive and charming, then they start moving in, they start devouring, and then, they so discard people. And you can see, perhaps, that kind of technique is similar to the whole kind of gaslighting effect as well. And people are actually using that. They are coming in very charming, trying to get people on board. And they actually just go through with all these other phases. It's just to get what they want in that relationship.

Jason: And it's Lobaczewski's 'reversive blockade' that he talks about. It also kind of the gaslighting...

Laura: Yeah, and that's authority and assurance.

Jason: Yeah, but the whole like that refusing that the truth is the truth and insisting that a lie is the truth...

Laura: Yeah.

Jason: ...that's kind of the reversive blockade of Lobaczewski.

Niall: Tim, there is a description of gaslighting in your book, and you talk about the 'gaslighter' and the 'gaslightee'. Can you explain for listeners what gaslighting is?

Tim: As I've said, there are just those 3 stages. It's actually from that film. It's trying actually to cause doubt... what we're trying to describe is actually simple: it's someone doubting one's own sanity. We're actually tying to say, it's not brainwashing! That sounds a little bit harsh. It's trying to actually get people to believe and, obviously, in the film it came from, there is a husband who's actually trying to make the wife seem if she's going...

Laura: ...crazy.

Tim: ...mad in a sense, and in terms of actually... You know we've described and what we're trying to do is like we're trying to describe it as.., because it's something that is a systematic attempt by one person to overwrite the other's reality. And we do bring some examples of modern day scenarios, where actually, as I said, someone is trying to overwrite someone else's: what they're actually thinking trying to change, trying to make them think that they actually are going crazy, and the strange things are happening to people. And that's kind of like... Sorry...

Jason: If I can jump just for a second? I think the movie was instructive. If I remember correctly what the husband did: there was a gas light, and he kept reducing the gas and dimming the lights, and denying to his wife that was happening. And she kept saying...

Tim: Well, yeah.

Jason: ... "It's getting dark, it's getting dark", and he kept saying, "No, it's perfectly fine." But the whole point was he's turning down the gas and the light is getting dimmer... and he's walking around like everything is fine. And she is...

Tim: Yeah, that was quite... Yeah, he was trying to convince her that she was crazy.

Laura: Yeah!

Tim: And she kept reporting strange things that have been happening in a house, where there was this dimming of those gas lights. And what happened was is that...the husband was in the attic doing some dodgy activities. So, he was actually...

So, I get it. It's quite a common thing. It's quite real.

And often, when you describe it to people, people actually say, "No, that's happened to me!" And I think, if we can try to get people to look at these case studies that we've put out there, and then they'll actually think, "Oh, that sounds familiar," and then, hopefully it might trigger: why that's happened to me? Or what or why is it that happened?

So I think, often, it's just kind of giving that kind of awareness to people, and as it does, if we can try people to think about those relationships they've been in, and actually think is this happened to me?

Niall: Yeah. I think what we've seen is that, just here on this show, we had two people recognising the problem.

That's exactly what you're taking about. People will understand. For all the confusion that's generated, whatever that term, nobody is really pinheaded. They are listening because they've had direct experience...

Tim: Yeah.

Niall: ... so they can go, "Oh, well. That happened to me".

Tim: I think it can happen in any relationships.

Niall: Yeah.

Tim: We hear some examples with the peers, with a child, with siblings or groups of friends, work colleagues. That happens. And, you know, as we're trying for people to actually see that it's actually happening, it affects their sense of reality. And we can disbelieve what we're seeing, and we're trying to get people to see that. That actually something is really happening to them.

Laura: I was looking at this little bit on page 26 about the gender differences, and this is something that does bug me, because it's really true that there hasn't been much in a way of any kind of a serious research on gender differences in sociopathy or psychopathy or other types of disorders. I remember reading one study where it has been being proposed that women who were diagnosed as bipolar or with borderline personality were just variation on psychopathy that they are in sociopathic conditions.

But anyhow, that's still all up in the air. They're still arguing about it everywhere.

But it says here: "It's a harmful potential of some sociopathic women that can be overlooked." And then it says, "From the available literature...", and that's what I find interesting, "... it would seem that when women direct their aggression towards others, their victims are generally those within their domestic sphere of control: a partner, a family member, a child, a friend, work colleague," and then it says "Much of the harm or aggression carried out by women involves manipulation of, or damage to, peer relationships through aggressive competitiveness, withdrawal of friendship, ostracism, overt bullying, telling lies about the victim to promote her rejection by others and other acts of interpersonal aggression," which is being described in contrast to what men do, because their aggression is basically the damage to the victim's sense of control. Male aggressiveness is more visible, more likely to resolve in arrest and punishment than is the case with women.

So, this means that women probably are... I don't know if there are as many sociopathic women as men, but this is a description of how they bully and dominate in social relationships. Would you say that that's kind of their main way of doing what they do?

Tim: Well, I think we're trying to show, there are differences in terms of how people responded to, now trying to make sure, because often when you describe this, if you just talk to the general public about the sociopaths, often people, as I said at the beginning, have this idea of a criminal male who is in prison, who's committed these horrible crimes, and this is not the case.

And in a lot of the case studies we've got, I'm trying to actually give cases of women. And we're not seeing more or less. Some of the studies that they've lead on looking at that kind of the split, and say that there are more men. But what we're trying to do is trying to help people to understand that some women for sure are overlooked. We've tried to link with... There is an academic called Caroline Logan based in Liverpool who's looking at these issues of sociopathic women, and she's trying to develop how these people maybe missed and, maybe, overlooked, because of how their behaviour maybe slightly different. And it's not any different in terms of the lack of empathy or how they're reacting, it's just how they interact within families and society. And it's just far too easy, and I think there have been really keen people who don't overlook women, because often they can be causing harm just, perhaps, in a different way to male sociopaths.

Laura: Oh, I don't know if there...

Jason: I always have a problem, when people sort of start talking about sociopaths and psychopaths, and they always attribute to them violence. And I think, violence is the symptom, because it's more available to men. I mean, you know, it's not really strong physical violence, and it's not always an option that is available to a female psychopath, so she won't get so much success with what they want, because you can't pick on someone...

Laura: They want to win.

Jason: They want to win ...and they realize that. A man realizes that the strategy to winning is the physical intimidation of people, and a woman is not going to be as physically intimidating, and so, she's not going to choose that outlet, but violence it's one of the choices they make, but it's not intrinsic to them.

Tim: Yeah. That's what we were trying to do, because we're trying to challenge that. Absolutely. I don't know. It's kind of a stereotype. I'm not saying that's kind of what we're, obviously... I hope that we'll be able to challenge that, and to actually see how we can identify those women as well. And, particularly, even the two callers you had with their own individuals, having children and exposed to relationships. And you know two of them have called... So, again, we just need to be actually making sure that we're looking at that widely, that just trying to self-understand what are the differences.

And again, we've trying to solve some of the case studies. And it's not case studies as we are actually trying to get people to understand that this is across the whole - male and female.

Laura: We've had on other shows, when we were on the topic with other guests. We've had a few men call in and told their stories. So, it is becoming a little bit more widely accepted, but... I want to ask you when you dealing with the woman sociopath, and this dynamic that Niall just described from his note that he got from the book as... What is it again? "They start with...

Niall: "The triad, where the first move is made by the sociopath..."

Laura: And what did they do? What I want to know is this the way it works with women also, even though, it's in a social setting rather than in a setting when males ...where it leads to violence.

Tim: Oh, that's what we've seen. One of the examples we get is the withdrawal with women, maybe not in terms of manipulation, but a withdrawal of friendship or ostracism or there could be they're ostracizing someone within their playground environment, not talking to them, getting talking to others about that individual. You know, there is kind of playground politics. And we've got some... and we're trying to draw in some of those examples from other kind of social groups as well. So, it's again, is trying to identify the women exposed to sociopaths. That is kind of in terms of the apath. There might be actually that the sociopath is trying to get to the rest of the group to actually to go along with what they say. And it, maybe, in terms of the bullying, they may have done something in a local town or something, and the sociopath then tries to get others in the community to stay on their side. So, then they actually using that manipulative behaviour, and that the others are saying, "Oh, that must be right." And, in fact, the empath is the one who then says, "Don't. No, this is wrong."

So, you can see, we give examples in the book as well, where, hopefully... and when we've shown these examples to others, they said, "Well, I do know someone like that. I've got friend like that. And I've seen that harm before." And it's just trying to get people to look at it rather differently, and not as just in terms of some kind of the stereotypes of the kind of the male. When we're taking about the sociopaths, it's not just man there are. It's across all, both sexes.

Niall: There is another taboo that you challenge in the book, kind of indirectly, but I think you might be able to clarify it for us. There is a case study of 15 year old James, a sociopath. Now, that begs the question: can children be sociopaths?

Tim: Well... What would you say?

Laura: Well, obviously, we're in that corner, we think that... Well, it depends on how you using 'sociopath'.

Tim: Yeah.

Laura: You know there is a lot to be said for nature and the development of these various conditions, but then there is also a lot to be said for nurture. How the individual is raised and because people, they'll say they were abused as a child. Well, way more people are abused as children who do not turn out sociopathic than those who do.

Joe: Hmm.

Laura: So...

Tim: Absolutely.

Laura: It's got to be something in the nature.

Tim: Yeah, and that's what we've tried to touch on. We try not to think too much in terms of the kind of, we're not the scientists, not in the matter what happened, but we're trying to look much more how to respond to that. Now, as I said, there are some cases of children who have not been exposed to the sociopathic parent or not being exposed to a parent showing empathy to them, and they might show that as well.
There are quite a few examples that we're getting in the book with our own children, but we think those children don't necessarily have low levels of empathy.

Come back to the kind of spectrum, then maybe, because of how they were brought up or maybe because of some kind of physiological... but we've tried not to get into that too much, because it's not our background. There are some studies going on their own about physiology and those types of things. We're trying to look at some callous and unemotional traits within children. We've got section on that in the book, and we just started to understand the antisocial behaviour. And there are cases where it is there. So, we're just using those examples to see how schools respond to those types of behaviours, if they are teaching about empathy in schools, and if there is someone actually showing that, and some of these cases are not based on real life, but a collection of various stories that we've been told or observed. So, they are not fantasy, the ones that we've seen.

Laura: Absolutely.

Tim: So, how do we respond to that when we have children that actually are kind of linked in the context of the conduct disorders? And, we're looking at all these. We've covered things of how to identify those children and how to move forward, and, as I said, there are some theories as how to take that kind of... and we have a section about it. And how you can solve and manage those?

Joe: Tim, when you're talking to people about this and trying to bring awareness of sociopathic behaviour, especially among children, do you approach the topic of that there're in some cases, there's certain children depending on their behaviour that is basically a lost cause?

Tim: Well, no. I mean...

Joe: Let me just give you a context for that... What just came to mind is the story I've read a good ten or fifteen years ago. I think it was Jamie Bulger?

Tim: Yeah, sure.

Laura: I think, he mentions him in the book here.

Niall: In the UK.

Tim: Oh, sure.

Joe: And this was... I think it was him and a friend. They were only seven or six...

Jason: Yeah. Six years old.

Joe: Seven years old. And they basically more or less tortured and killed the 2 or 3 year old.

Niall: In Liverpool.

Laura: It was so horrible. I just can't... I couldn't stay awake at night.

Joe: I mean, what kind of abuse could such a young boy have experienced in the home environment that would lead them to mirror that, if it was simply learned behaviour, and surely there are others who have had equally bad childhoods, who don't do those kinds of things that they did?

Jason: It reminds me of a story of two brothers. One of them goes to visit the other brother in jail and says, "Why are you in here?" and he says, " Because dad was a drunk and he beat us all the time, and that's why I'm in jail", and he says, "But, look at you, you are a successful lawyer, and how, why are you that way?" and he's like, "Because the dad was the drunk and he beat us all the time, and I didn't want to be like him."

You know, so... It's all about the person and not so much about the situation sometimes.

Tim: Well, I think so. And I think that it is what we've talked about in the very beginning that sometimes we may not necessarily know "why?" the adult or the child is behaving that way. And if they are, then how can we identify those things, those types of behaviours? Because there are lots of academics and scientists looking at all the kind of environmental, and kind of physiological reasons and... but that's not what we've really looked at. That's not our area of expertise, and all of those are more experienced. They're looking at 'why' is something. What we were trying to understand is trying to get some kind of framework. And if we have got those children who have got those behaviours, what can we actually do? What can be done? And, you know, there are some suggestions, the ways of doing that. And you're right. There is no 'x' equals 'y', so let's deal with 'x', because you know, there's lots of variances in terms of where I come from, the health care background, there is huge kind of... It's impossible to see this equals that, but you know we've tried to touch on some of that kind of thinking and some kind of the research behind it, but it's very much in terms of practical steps: what can we do? And as I was listening to one of the callers earlier, there are some self-techniques that are in the book for those parents if you have any concerns. Oh, well. Yeah, sure. I want schools challenging those behaviours. I want teachers to challenge it. And in the UK, where we're based, I don't think it has been challenged at all. I think, if those children aren't... those behaviours aren't being addressed, which I think they aren't, then what's been done, it's not going to be any help at all.

Laura: I think it's a really big problem, and I think a lot of people are going to be glad that, at least, that you have addressed the problem in your book, because, I think, there are parents who deal with this and somebody needs to put it on the table and say, "This is a problem. These are some suggestions what you can do about it.

Joe: We've got another call here. I'm just going to go and take it.

Laura: Ok.

Caller # 3: Hello?

Joe: Hi! What's our name and where are you calling from?

Caller # 3: Hello. My name is Zoya, and I'm calling from Beirut.

Joe: Ok. Hi, Zoya.

Niall: Hello, Zoya.

Juliana: Hi, Zoya.

Zoya: Yes. Hello. I have a question. What would you do to help a person, who was in the relationship with a psychopath? What are clearly the psychopathic traits, and she went through a period of crisis that led to an almost nervous breakdown. Just to... in relationship with another, clearly a pathological person or, maybe, she even got back to the same one, because, I'm not sure - this part is unclear, because she's not even sharing a lot. And this person uses the same control games on her. Obviously, it takes two to tango. And she played her games as well, emotional and stuff like this, but it's because she's literally under his spell. I know this person. I live with her, and I see her every day, and I can clearly see that she's a changed person. And even if she says that she's away, she can do nothing much about it than to repeat it in a mechanical way. And she's very outgoing, social and good looking girl, but in this case clearly chooses to loose herself completely over of this guy. And I know him. I saw him, and he looks all shiny, smart and, honestly, creepy. So, the question is: can someone do something in such case? When I care about this person, and it's really worrying me, because I don't think that she's [going to end up being another victim], and that she's obviously, she's clearly under his spell. So, she won't be able to listen or...

Laura: So, you want to know, if there's something you can do to advise or...

Zoya: Help. Yes.

Laura: ...to wake your friend up, because she's already had a nervous breakdown as a result of the relationship, and now she's in another relationship or back with the same guy and heading for another nervous breakdown. Is that it?

Zoya: Yes.

Tim: I mean, have you spoken to your friend? Have you been able to speak to your friend about this?

Zoya: Well, I actually study in the University, and I live in the dormitory, and it's my roommate. When she was done with her boyfriend, with the previous one, she changed completely: her behaviour, everything. She was not only crying every day, but she, basically, had a nervous breakdown, she was shaking. And she was always with bruises as if she was... as if he had hit her, but I think that maybe there is something else involved. I don't know, but she's completely like a different person from what I've became to know her during those two years that we are together. And right now, she behaves like she was addicted. It was like a love rush, you know, like a love bug. She was all on hormones or something.

Tim: The first thing, I think, is to trying to help them to identify that there is abuse, that some abuse has taken place. So, that's why I'm suggesting this: try to find ways, because obviously, they might be feeling very confused or bewildered, or feel anxious, or shameful of the situation, and/or fearful of these persons. So, we need to try to find techniques to actually help them to identify, to recognize that something's harming them.

Joe: What are...? Do you...? Are there any specific techniques, Tim?

Tim: What I mean, what we've got things in here in terms of, if you do, if you have this kind of... but the key thing, I think, is to try to get them to recognize what is happening. And I suppose, with your friend is actually trying to find ways, and it could be similar to what we've talked in details here, maybe, just trying to reflect back, and if they have actually expressed some concern or anxiety, then, maybe, just using some simple counselling techniques to reflect them back those anxieties to your friend may help them to build and understand that what you're thinking. You know some simple counselling techniques using reflection on those types of techniques. So, if they voice any kind of thought, so if they are under any anxiety, or anything about what's happening, reflect that back to them trying to get them to recognize that, maybe, something is not right in here.

Laura: Well. Are there any books on this kind of technique?

Tim: Sorry, I've missed that you're saying...

Laura: Are there any books that describe this kind of technique?

Tim: Well, within this we do start with... Its simple counselling techniques. It can be so simple as... behaviour. We've got some techniques in here. Again, how can you help your friend actually to identify that something is happening? So, as I said, it could be for them, even if they're listening, just take a few notes in terms of...even if when someone is saying something to them, and then actually what you think about it, so that it maybe... The caller, does your friend express any concerns about what's happening?

Zoya: Well, she got... but you see, the problem is that she has herself a psychological problem, where she sees it as a delegation of herself, because she basically worried about if she'll get herself accepted, if she looked accepted, if she's loved?

Tim: Yeah.

Zoya: She does everything for him. So, it's a sort of compensation, because it's like she needs it for herself.

Tim: Yeah, and the thing is for any of those, you need for them to identify that not that something's wrong, but there's some abuse or something not right taking place to them. As I said, it could be trying to actually to reflect back some of those concerns, cause' obviously they're going to be very fearful. Even going onto the internet trying to find similar stories or looking at books, this one or the other books as well, trying to identify if there are similar environment either within this or, maybe, kind of magazine, where you maybe able to take that to them and say, "Look, this sounds a bit like you! I bet this is a similar situation to you." So, trying to look at if there are other things over there that may actually solve... Because If they just see it as themselves and no one else that maybe just looking at it elsewhere to see if there are other people in the similar situation.

Laura: Or a movie!

Zoya: Aha... Because I thought that as long as she's not expressing, not sharing with me that she thinks that is something wrong, it's like it's not my place, so to say, to interfere and point it out to her.

Tim: No, I think its fine to try actually, If your friend may be able to actually, being able to hide those things and just to express concern, and again, that's what my whole books about - empathy. You can just see it's wrong, just be concerned about what's happening, and giving some examples of, just couple of points, because, again, that can be a real opportunity in there, to actually show that you are compassionate and understanding, and you're concerned, and you can start like a conversation and say, "Oh, well, maybe, I'm a little bit concerned." So, again, looking at it for a while what she was like before or in other relationships, so, at times you can talk about what she was like in the past and what she is like now.

Jason: From what I understand from reading the subtext of the situation is essentially that until her, at least, starts having an inkling that something's going on, what you're talking about is doing battle with him more than you're trying to do anything with her. Because until she sees that's something's wrong and says it for you to reflect back, as Tim's saying, until she like, you know, starts saying, "Wait a minute. I'm in trouble, I need to find something," until she's looking for that, you're not going to make much headway, because you're going to be doing a battle directly with him. If that's something you want to get into it - fine...

Zoya: Yeah.

Jason: ...but I'm not sure, I would really recommend it.

Laura: Yea, well, but stories, books, movies.

Zoya: Yeah.

Jason: Exposing her...

Laura: Exposing her to similar situations.

Jason: ... indirectly to make her think.

Zoya: Actually, she loves her friends. Yeah, she lost them because of him, because others see it as well.

Tim: But the thing I would say here, bring in the compassion into this. Show compassion to her, and because she might feel ashamed of the situation, she might have some insight. She might feel ashamed that she is in the situation. So, showing that compassion and maybe just, again, it could be that, as what we're talking about earlier, that she's been gaslighted by the person. So, she may be doubting her own sanity again, if she's got mental health problems in the past. She's maybe worrying about it happening again. So, if you show her some compassion and empathy, and as I said, looking at as what she was like previously or in different conversations, that might help her to actually then to start thinking through some of these situations she's at the moment... or find someone like yourself, caller, that actually have this understanding and actually trying to share your experiences, well maybe, in the similar situation.

Jason: Well, the interesting thing is that Cialdini uses this exact example, when he's talking about how people get manipulated, and uses the example of a woman who's being abused, and she leaves the man. And so then she starts doing really well. She gets a new job. Her life's all good. And the guy comes back. And he convinces her that he's changed. And she goes back with him. And, you know, it's not a week later, when he starts beating her again. And this went on for a very, very long time. And he started getting interested in why that was she was with this man. And he found that a lot it had to do with social pressure around the person.

Jason: Once they've made the choice to go back... Once they've made the choice, and once they've told their friends, "Oh, he's changed" or "He's better now", they'll do anything to conceal the fact that they've made a mistake. They won't want to go back on what they said...

Laura: The shame factor.

Jason: The shame factor is so powerful for them that they will actually put make-up to cover bruises, wear long sleeve blouses, as the song goes, to hide the fact and to conceal from their friends the depths of what's going on. And how to get out of that? And, of course, Cialdini doesn't have anything to say on it, because he says it's really a pickle that the person is in now because it's their own mind that is keeping them in the abuse, and until they actually come and say, "I realize it was a mistake", so until they can get past that social pressure that kills, it's really hard unless you can throw them out.

Tim: Right. What we're trying to do was bring in this stuff. It's a similar thing to addiction or someone actually may recover from addiction. And we talk about it, trying to bring in this idea of preventing lapse or relapse, and lapse is in your judgement of high risk situations, and explain the ways, cause' it's often unfortunate, it may get you back to that behaviour. Maybe, someone may drop you an e-mail or you maybe curious, maybe you want to know what that person is doing now, or you may encounter them on Facebook or Twitter, or you may drive past their house, and you can easily slip back into similar situations, or if you had a bad week, you might want to get back into that. So, we're looking at high risk situations and habits, and routines, and trying to get people aware of the triggers that may get you back into the situation they've been in the past. So the thing is people may get through this, but we don't want them to be back there next year or the year after, or year after. So, it's just trying to identify all these triggers that may lead you potentially going back to those behaviours.

Laura: Yeah, I just want to tell it to the listeners there is a chapter in the book The Empathy Trap called Coping in the Aftermath of the Destructive Relationship, and it has several chapter headings: Witnessing the Sociopathic Abuse, Dealing with the Draining Effects of Trauma, Shame, Coping Emotionally, talks about the stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, Dealing with Anxiety, Stress and Anger in the Early Days, Pressing with Pause Button. This book give us some tips for tackling stress, has a whole list of things you can do to tackle your stress, relaxation exercises. Dealing with Frustration. Venting. 'Venting' means releasing pent-up feelings of anger, or getting things of your chest. Then, it talks about how to reduce venting gradually, and then, how rumination is not necessarily good for you, because it involves dwelling on or thinking deeply about things.

Jason: Basically, this book is really something.

Laura: Yeah. Yeah, this book... It's just so many, so many... Know yourself. And then, there is a list. There is a check list: mindfulness, how to control your ruminating time, what to do when the stress and anxiety aren't shifting for you, dealing with the traumatic memories. These are just priceless bits of the information! How to establish boundaries; regain control of your life. And here is a good one for the caller: is it ever really advisable to tell someone that their friend is sociopathic? I would say, rephrase it: is it wise to tell someone that they are in sociopathic relationship?

There are diagrams, the recovery process. And this is the beauty - Coping Day to Day, Establishing personal boundaries, Limiting contact, No contact, Preventing Lapses in Judgement - this is a big one. This is a very big one.

Jason: So, yeah. This book is just essential reading. This is The Empathy Trap. You can get it on the Amazon, by Dr. Jane McGregor and Tim McGregor. It's like a little handbook for people who need some practical input - the ABC's of dealing with the situation. Something that's been really lacking actually in the literature, because, of course, there is also some kind of interesting theoretical stuff.

Laura: Yeah, there are a lot of different books that describe this, but this is basically... It's not focused on extensive analysis of the psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists, borderlines, 'blah-blah-blah'... It's about, you know, people who get into these relationships, what happens to them, how to get out, how the heck to cope with it. I was actually very pleased with this book, because it's something that's really been needed. And this one I don't have any hesitation recommending highly to all our listeners.

Tim: Oh, thank you. That's very kind of you all.

Laura: Well, it's really nice book, and...

Jason: You've got to understand: we got shelves full of books on this topic.

Laura: We have an entire library. We've probably...

Jason: Really, we have more than 10,000 books at this point.

Laura: Yeah, at least.

Jason: Yeah. This is one of those books that was just so easy to read. And it's so fun.

Laura: Well, I don't know if it's fun so much, but it's easy to read.

Jason: After reading all these other books on on narcissism, and the worst ones are the scientists who want to spend 30 pages nitpicking some particular detail, and I just want to throw the book out the window...

Niall: I think it's also fascinating. If it's really true that one in a hundred people [are psychopaths]? Or 25% of people or something? Then what else is there to discover, you know?

Tim: We would say one in a hundred... which is what concerns us. It still means 3 million people in the States and about 70 million worldwide...

So, it's just one of those things: why is it that it's not being tackled? It's just...

Laura: ...and it causes so much damage to society.

Tim: Absolutely.

Juliana: Well, I think one of the best things about the book is and what you're saying here is that it's actually liberating. It may not be fun, but it's very liberating. And the examples you're giving are really something that people can relate to, and a lot of the times people loose interest in the topic, because they think, "Well, this is about politicians or..."

Laura: This is about real people.

Juliana: ...and when you get to examples whether you're dealing with the sociopath or not, when you get the examples of concrete manipulation...something that really affects you in your life... and it seems from the approach you're taking in counselling you're doing just that: taking people through the various steps when they can get to recognize what is really, really going on in their lives which, therefore, hopefully will take them to a point when they can get out of the difficult situations and heal, but also start seeing the bigger picture, and how these sociopath, these people without empathy effect the entire society, because they can easily, more easily extrapolate what happens...

Laura: ...in their home...

Juliana: ...in their home to what's happening in society and then doing the reverse process of seeing something that seems far away.

Tim: Absolutely. That's why we're trying to...

Juliana: That's why I think, that's really good in what you're saying and, you know, that type of literature is not just the abstract concepts or...

Laura: ...and the stories are good.

Tim: Oh, that's good. Because it was a little bit of an unknown, cause when you're trying to describe those situations, and trying to understand... it's obviously, in different countries, different cultures, but the stories we were trying to bring are not just ones, how to say it, are genuinely true stories that we've come across, and we're just trying to get people to think. But the thing that we found the most helpful, for us as well, is when people can say, "Oh, I can recognize that. I can see myself, I can see my friend in that situation."

And then that means that, well, they've identified that something's not right, and then that means, they start thinking, and if you can support friends or family, and the reason was just trying to help, you know. That's been the main driver for us is trying to help people. There's some here that helped us, and if even as a couple of callers, you've had tonight, if it helps one person, what I'm trying to say, we will be happy.

Joe: Well, all right, Tim. I think we're going to end it there. I think we've covered most of all we've wanted to cover. I just want to thank you for being on the show. Thank you for writing the book, along with Jane.

Tim: Thank you. Thank you so much for giving us a chance.

Joe: No problem. The name of the book is The Empathy Trap: Understanding Antisocial Personalities. That's about it! So, thanks to our listeners. Thanks to our callers. Hope you've enjoyed the show. We will be back next week.

Laura: Good night all!

Niall: Good night.

Jason: Good night.