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#3162 - 06/27/04 06:32 PM A Psychopathic Mother

Hi. I'm a new member. I am trying to cope with a psychopathic mother. She is very nasty and revengeful. But presents herself as a strong christian. To illustrate, I've just found out that I have an older brother (adopted out, after my parents were married). She is very cold, and has no friends, but has total control of my (nonadopted) brother, sister and father. They make up huge lies about me (all of them!), and think i need to find god. I have just discovered other relatives, and they are mostly very lovely and understand much (but I did not know exactly where my relatives lived (aunts, uncles, cousins), and thought they would not be so supportive). My mother would kill me if she could get away with it. Has anyone else had an experience like this? I am keen to talk to anyone who has had a similar experience with a mother.

#3163 - 06/28/04 01:52 AM Re: A Psychopathic Mother
recovery Offline

Registered: 11/19/02
Posts: 204
Hi RockSolid

This sounds awful for you. Has it always been like this? But remember that there are many reasons for someone to behave really badly - other mental problems etc. Why do you think she is a psychopath as this is important in knowing what can or cannot be done to try and help you?

Best of luck


#3164 - 06/28/04 02:32 AM Re: A Psychopathic Mother [Re: recovery]

Hi Recovery -- thanks for the response. And excellent question. I did not always know. We were always taught by her that she was the martyr (our father has a bad temper, which he cannot control, and he is very strict, though also means well; he was always on the outer). She was always like that, but we were very religious (evangelical) and very obedient (I was once punished severley for finding out my father's middle name). the atmosphere in the house was terrible, but very supresessed, and i understood little. I believe that my mother is very immature emotionally -- she thinks badly of almost everyone and considers herself saintly. But while she has poor social and coping skills, she is not crazy. Also, there is no mental health problems in either parent's families. My father's family has no history of violence (tho my father had some nasty violent outbursts as a child). Most telling, my mother has sisters who have estranged their children too. But family who are not like this are either genuinely really good. I think my mother has deep problems from when she was a child, of inadequacy and lack of control, and also she could never see fault in herself. Also, there seems to be a need to really hate someone, and she uses religion to keep her thoughts narrow.

I don't really know; I think an outsider would understand better, as I have generally been very dense on the matter -- I am only now at 42 getting a better understanding, and mostly that has been when others point things out.

But it is not desperate either, i might add. i have very loving immediate family (a quite exceptional husband of over 20 years), lovely very supportive parents-in-law (who know much), as well as now a very loving extended family (although the bonds are still new).

....[phew!]. Maybe I'm too hard on her, but the pain has been shocking. I'm interested in anything you can make of it.

Thanks so very much,

#3165 - 06/28/04 03:37 AM Re: A Psychopathic Mother

Hi rocksolid, yes its hard to understand but yes women can be just as much a P as men but fewer i think, the mother of my children is a real bad P, for years i thought she must care and couldnt understand how she could do what she was doing, the oldest child was virtually caring for the 3 youngest boys at age 16 and when she left home it was only 2 weeks before i was told that either i take custody of the children or she would start hurting them or put them in a foster home, so i took custody and havent looked back or spoken to her since that day in 1997, she now tells the children that i have custody because i threatened to bash her if she didnt give them to me, IE they never get better or admit to any wrong doing, they care for nobody and thge best thing to do is keep them out of your life, yes it hurts but at least you will get over it with time, and NEVER try and understand why or how they could act that way!!! it will drive you mad...cheers from oz..

#3166 - 06/28/04 03:55 AM Re: A Psychopathic Mother

Hi Oz, What you say makes a lot of sense. I can do without her contact, and want her away from me. But it hurts how she has lied to my brother, sister and father, and that they have chosen to believe her. I have not handled things cleverly, which she has, and being out of contact for many years has confused things. But apart from the religion (which is big to them) it is unbelievable that they could be so nasty. I have always been really nice and kind, albeit prone to be the emotional one. How can they be so nasty, and without any provocation from me (quite the opposite -- e.g., always going out of my way to say and mean nice things, giving money etc). There cannot be 3 psychopaths (my father is not; he is just childish and insecure; in better circumstances we'd repair the damage).

#3167 - 06/28/04 06:24 AM Re: A Psychopathic Mother
Nan Offline

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 501
Hi RockSolid,

It sounds as though you are in a very confusing sitution that you don't understand (and no wonder, I might add).

You write:

"I'm interested in anything you can make of it. "

From what you say about your mother it's clear that she is fundamentally religious with a rather narrow worldview. I feel that this is sometimes the case with people who are very religious - they hold on to a very narrow worldview in order to maintain their emotional balance and sense of self. Anything that threatnes their emotional balance is bad, sinful and not up for discussion. This *could* be the reason for her poor social and coping skills. Another reason *could* be lack of formal education. People without sufficient formal education can feel inadequate and ill-at-ease in the presence of other people

It is very diificult to say whether your mother is a psychopath.

There two things that are a little indicative.

1. The fact that she has a "lack of control".

However, this could simply mean that she is bad tempered.

2. The fact that she "could never see fault in herself".

This is the one thing that psychopaths cannot do - see any faults in themselves. But that alone doesn't make her a psychopath. A person has to have several of the criteria from Hare's list.

Have you checked out the book Without Conscience by Robert Hare?

I think Hare's list is somewhere on this site. I'll check it out and let you know where you can find it.

Could you be a little more descriptive about your mother and her behaviour and characteristics while keeping your father out of the equation? That would make it easier to help you.

Take care and take heart,


#3168 - 06/28/04 11:04 AM Re: A Psychopathic Mother [Re: Nan]
Dianne E. Offline


Registered: 11/15/02
Posts: 2746
Loc: United States
Hi, I had the file listed on my PC, keep in mind this is not a solid way to figure out if someone is a Psychopath but should give you some guidelines.

Psychopathy checklist

#3169 - 06/28/04 11:40 AM Re: A Psychopathic Mother [Re: Nan]

Hi Nan
I'm in two minds too. Looking at the list some things fit well (e.g., pathological lying, callousness). Others not (e.g., my father often called her frigid). It could be the family that she was bought up with -- but no up bringing could make someone that cold and callous. There is something wrong with her.

I do not think it is a lack of formal education, although she does have little education (I have several postgrad quals, obtained in later life). I think it angers her and my sister that I have always been by far the most pretty, successful etc.

My mother was very controlling (a different scale from other peoples') and there was no warmth. She never laughed, except an occassional snigger at someone's misfortune.

Maybe she is extremely cold without being a psychopath. She can do things to me (e.g., push me out a window, destroy property, have no interest in my children whatsoever). But she does not fit the serial psychopath in the community. She donates to the church (well, I think she does at least) and does a small amount of voluntary work (people in wheelchairs).

But she does not have superficial charm. People generally see straight-up that she is cold and distant, and that she generally likes few of them.

Hard to know. I'm very glad of the kind help.

#3170 - 06/28/04 04:39 PM Re: A Psychopathic Mother

Hi Nan, Recovery, and others who have offered help. Looking at Hare's criteria again, if it were being scored by an outsider it is unlikely that my mother would score the minimal 20 or so points. She is not impulsive, and I would not even call her irresponsible in a general sense (except towards those who matter). She is manipulative and extremely self-centred, and callous, but I guess not really a psychopath. Maybe some people become so sure they are good and right that they can justify psychopathic-type behaviors. Anyway, I don't know her well enough to add any more (we have had very little contact since I fled the house many moons ago). The saga just reappears because of repeated behaviors in siblings, which are hard to fathom. You would think there was a way of talking any compromise into them, but I don't know how, other than going into the lions' den, and that's bound not to work (I'll get bitten, and they'll enjoy the taste of flesh).

Maybe there needs to be another DSM category -- religious fanatics with calous tendencies.

#3171 - 06/29/04 01:38 AM Re: A Psychopathic Mother

Hi Rocksolid

Hope you manage to make some sense of your mother; understanding where the problem lies can take away a lot of the hurt and self-doubt that anyone brought up in an unloving atmosphere must feel.

You probably need to do quite a bit of reading before you can decide whether she is or is not a P. Cleckley's classic book on the subject is called 'The Mask of Sanity' with good reason - P's do wear a mask, and one has to be pretty close to them to see behind it. Some of them do hide behind a pseudo-religious front, and make the most horrendous mockery of something which should be beautiful.

If you can get hold of Robert Hare's book, 'Without Conscience' and Cleckley's book, which is in fact available on line (, these should give you a good idea of whether you are dealing with a P. If not, you probably have to look at her own background and upbringing to understand what she is.

I'm so glad you see that the problem is 'her' and not 'you'.

All the best

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