2015 was a busy year, and it went by too quickly! But it has been rewarding to look back and see how much we accomplished. Many of our efforts were directed at providing more accurate information about psychopathy to people who need that information. We believe valid and reliable information about psychopathy can help people who are already in relationships with psychopathic people and can help everyone to cope more effectively with such individuals if they come into our lives. We believe most professionals do not understand enough about psychopathy. Sometimes people in my own field, clinical psychologists, are trained only to understand Antisocial Personality Disorder and are not informed about the important differences between psychopathic individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder and nonpsychopathic individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Educating the Public
In 2015, we were able to provide information to the general public and to a variety of professionals about the impact of people with psychopathic traits. Most of this information is presented through our website, and developing and improving the website has been an important priority for us. [Click here for website report] Our volunteers provided several kinds of information on the website in 2015. They read and endorsed several books describing the experiences of people in relationships with people with psychopathic traits as well as books summarizing recent scientific research on psychopathy. These books can be found in the Aftermath Store [Click here to visit the store].
The volunteers of the Research Committee read and wrote summaries of four recent articles on psychopathy to help people understand what we are learning about psychopaths. These articles describe recent studies focused on what is wrong with psychopathic people. Research Committee Report [Click here to read the Research Committee report]
We do not pretend that the problem of psychopathy has easy answers or that we understand all that there is to know about people with psychopathic features. But scientists are learning information quickly, and, even though we cannot keep up with all the new studies, we think it is important to let people know what we are learning. During 2015, we were also excited to be able to present two new resources by psychopathy experts: Dr. Cynthia Mathieu’s essay on the potential pros and cons of hiring people with psychopathic traits and Dr. Stephen Porter’s answers to specific questions, part of our “Ask the Expert” series. In future years, we hope to continue to pass along information by experts and findings from important studies into the nature and impact of psychopathy.
During 2015, we launched a series of conversations with psychopathy experts that were presented over the internet. We feel very grateful to the two researchers who have joined us thus far. The first of these web conversations is now available on our website. The second should be available soon as well. Although we did not provide workshops in 2015, we continued to work on the writing and development of an online continuing education course that we hope will ultimately help us to reach many therapists in several different disciplines.
In the past year, we also took additional steps to provide information to people in new places. Translations of some of the material on our website were written by individuals who speak Dutch, Turkish, and Catalan. The evidence suggests that people who are often called psychopaths or sociopaths in this country exist in every county in the world, regardless of how they are labeled. In fact, we have had visitors to the website from many different parts of the world [Click here for a snapshot of people using the website in 2015] Because everyone matters, we encourage everyone who knows someone whose life has been touched by psychopathy and who speaks a language not yet represented on the website to consider whether they would like to help provide information to help inform and protect people in other countries.
Recognizing Noteworthy Contributions
We also began implementing an awards program in order to recognize contributions to the education of the public. As noted here, the first winner of the Aftermath Foundation Media Award in 2015 was Jeremy Torrie for his film The Psychopath Next Door, and we continued our support of new research to help us understand the ways that people with psychopathic traits impact others by supporting a new research study. It is always exciting to see the results of new research, and a report from Dr. Kai Li Chung describing the study is included as part of this annual report. [link to report by Kai Li Chung]
Helping People in Traumatic Relationships
In 2015, we also tried to help people who had been hurt by someone with psychopathic traits by offering to provide referrals to psychopathy experts for people who believe they are in difficult, traumatic relationships with psychopathic individuals and for people who are recovering from such relationships. Although we cannot provide formal assessments for people who write to us, and we cannot diagnose psychopathy without assessments, we are gradually building up a network of concerned professionals in different parts of the world who understand psychopathy and are willing to provide psychotherapy or counseling or assessments. We do not yet have contact with an extensive network of professionals, and we are not able to find someone to help everyone who asks for help. However, in 2015, we responded to requests for help from 59 people. Roughly half were from the United States. [Click here for a view of the places from which people requested help in 2015]
Growing the Organization
We have also continued to grow as an organization. One way we grew in 2015 was through our members. For several years now, people around the world have been donating small amounts of money to the foundation to become members of the foundation. These memberships make a great deal of difference to us. We must wait until some of our additional website improvements are completed before we can implement all the things we want to do for our members. But we are already doing what we can to show our appreciation. In 2015, we sent bimonthly newsletters to our members to keep them posted on the activities and accomplishments of the foundation, to encourage them to give us feedback, and – in some cases – to become more involved. Some of the new resources that are developed are also provided first to our members before we make them available to the general public. Among these, the web conversations mentioned above are perhaps the most exciting. Not only are a small number of members able to attend these conversations, but members are provided with the video footage of the conversations as early as these can be prepared. In this context, it is perhaps worth restating that, at this time, our organization is entirely comprised of volunteers.
We Depend on Our Volunteers
All of the people who set up these conversations, develop announcements, edit and develop the video footage, read the articles and books, prepare newsletters, and respond to requests are volunteers. So it is really the volunteers of the organization who make possible the work described here. Another way that we continued to grow as an organization was in our volunteers. Four new people joined the Foundation to help with the work in 2015.
Infrastructure and Fundraising
We know that there is a great deal of important work to do, and we certainly appreciate the help we get. We want to emphasize that we would not wish for people who are suffering to feel pressure to help us. However, people who understand psychopathy enough to appreciate our goals but are not currently suffering or recovering from a traumatic relationship and who have any kinds of skills that could benefit a nonprofit organization are encouraged to let us know, to lend a hand to our cause. There is no question that we have plenty of work to do. It is because of the need to do more that we need to raise more money.
Consequently, fundraising has become an important priority for the organization. It is not our primary focus and it seems less important than helping people, but it is the only way that we can pay our bills. Even small foundations like ours are required to file annual reports in order to maintain our status as a nonprofit organization. In addition, we maintain a post office box, and we need to continually make improvements to our website to achieve our goals. Providing workshops and funding important research on the impact of psychopathy are things that we cannot do without raising money. I encourage you to consider some of our ideas about the best reasons people may want to support us financially [click here].