Letter from the President

Hello, again. The Aftermath: Surviving Psychopathy Foundation has had another good year! During 2014, we focused on some important pragmatic issues, which should improve our ability to achieve our goals in the long run. We worked hard on improving our website, as well as ensuring that it remains secure to help us protect the privacy of victims and survivors. We also began designing and building an online course to allow us to educate a much larger number of psychologists and other mental health care professionals about the nature and impact of psychopathy on their work with victims and survivors. This course should allow us to make clinicians more effective in dealing with psychopathic individuals, as well. These kinds of investments require us to delay gratification, as they take more time than most of the work we have done in previous years, but we are committed to increasing our outreach and our capacity to help individuals and families in need, and we look forward to sharing more about these projects as they become ready. Even as we have worked on these long-range projects, we have made substantial improvements in our current website.

Among the changes we have made, I am especially excited about the increasing number of resources about psychopathy and the growing number of translations of resources about psychopathy into other languages. I want to emphasize that these resources reflect the dedication of our volunteers. Each month, people volunteer to read scientific articles on psychopathy, select articles that seem especially relevant to people who have been victimized or who have survived traumatic relationships, and then work to summarize them accurately in ways that people without advanced degrees can understand them. Other volunteers from around the world have also begun to translate these materials into other languages so that people around the world can benefit from this knowledge.

The good news is that we are learning much more about the factors that contribute to the development of psychopathy and the mechanisms that underlie this very costly disorder. Since Bob Hare developed and validated the Psychopathy Checklist, there has been a veritable explosion of research on psychopathy, and we have learned a great deal. We are also beginning to understand much more about the impact that people with psychopathic traits have on others. But this is a relatively new area of research. It is only in the last several years that scientists have begun to study systematically the impact of people with psychopathic traits on others, and we are happy to be playing a role in supporting this important research effort. As some of you may know, due in large part to an anonymous donation, we were able to fund some research addressing the impact of psychopathy on other people. In this report we share with you the findings of one of those studies. Read the report here.

Why do we try so hard to present accurate information about psychopathy?

There are two reasons: first, because knowledge is power, and, second, because an understanding of psychopathy is one very important area that has been largely neglected. When people understand how those with psychopathic traits are able to manipulate them, as well as understand more about how their own behavior sometimes makes them more vulnerable to being tricked or deceived, they are in a much better position to defend themselves against this kind of manipulation. We encourage you to check our website regularly over the next year for updates on psychopathy, so that you keep learning and keep growing in your ability to protect yourself and your loved ones. You will see more summaries of articles on important research topics. You will also see questions and answers from experts in the field of psychopathy and webinar presentations with psychopathy experts. Being informed will help you to protect yourself and to help protect others. 

The Need to Educate Society

But it is not enough to understand things ourselves because we live interdependent lives. All of us depend on a variety of other people and on many social systems, and most of our social institutions are based on the assumption that people present themselves accurately and that people are motivated to follow rules – to get along with others as well as to get ahead. Our institutions are not designed to accommodate people who lie skillfully, who are willing to break the rules and manipulate others regularly. We believe that this is the reason that people with psychopathic traits are often so destructive to their families, at their jobs, in the courts, and in society at large.

We are not suggesting that our social systems are badly designed, but we do believe that additional checks and balances are necessary for those systems to deal more effectively with people who do not follow the rules. In short, we believe that, as more and more people come to understand the nature and impact of people with psychopathic traits, we, as a society, will begin to develop policies and modify our social systems so that they are less easily manipulated, so that stories that sound too good to be true will more often be checked out, and so that charm and charisma will not count for quite so much when people’s actions are not consistent with their words.

With your help, we are taking important steps to help make individuals tougher to manipulate and exploit and to help make society safer for everyone.

Dave Kosson

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