New book, "Love Fraud: How Marriage to a Sociopath Fulfilled my Spiritual Plan," by Donna Andersen sheds light on healing from exploitive and abusive relationships
by Fannie LeFlore
Habitual liars and cheaters, con artists and swindlers are extremely self-centered and controlling people.
They focus on manipulating other people simply as a way of life, for their own benefit.
People like Donna Andersen clearly know what this kind of evil looks like.
They know because they once trusted people who turned out to be sociopaths -- people who deceived them intentionally, who took from them both tangible and intangible things of value, through encounters in romantic, familial or business relationships, whether over a period of hours, days, weeks, months or years.
Now, with the publication of her new book, Love Fraud: How Marriage to a Sociopath Fulfilled my Spiritual Plan, Donna Andersen tells the full and intimate story of how she slowly learned harsh truths about sociopaths and the consequences from relationships with them.
“I thought I was marrying a successful businessman, James Montgomery.
It turned out I was his business. He took all my money and left me seriously in debt. I found out, far too late, that my husband had a history of defrauding women.
I also found out he's not alone. Experts estimate that 1% to 4% of the population are sociopaths, depending upon whom you ask,” Andersen writes.
Andersen had previously shared parts of her story through blogs on the Lovefraud.com website she launched on July 19, 2005, which now helps thousands across the globe who’ve been devastated by sociopaths, to realize they are not crazy after all.
Lovefraud.com also featured a review of Mary Jo Buttafuoco’s 2009 book about life with Joey Buttafuoco, whose dalliances with a teenager, Amy Fisher, became a sensational media story after Fisher shot Mary Jo in the head.
Both Andersen and Mary Jo Buttafuoco, though not licensed as professionals in the field of psychology, did significant research on sociopathy.
In recollections of living with men who brought too much turmoil into their lives, both staunchly refer to their exes as “sociopaths.”
Andersen’s book is a meticulous compilation of factual details, with narratives and anecdotal evidence.
Personal journals she kept provide a rich source of information and reflections on a life shattered during the two-and-a-half years she was enmeshed through marriage to Montgomery.
Her book recalls both horrendous and routine events through both an intriguing and in-depth exploration of the inner journey she traveled through chaos, cruelty and ultimately clarity that led to her own spiritual renewal.
As Andersen explains in her book, the behaviors exhibited by sociopaths suggest they are primarily interested in power, control and pleasure.
“Sociopaths have no heart, no conscience and no remorse,” she writes. Such individuals lack substance at their core, like an empty shell.
A chief characteristic is being devoid of empathy, lacking concern for the well-being of others.
The Montgomery and other true stories of male and female sociopaths cited in the book or on Lovefraud.com show the inhumane extremes to which some people will go to get what they want.
They’ll claim to be in love, while juggling multiple partners or operating with ulterior motives. They’ll fake credentials, and pit people against each other.
They will lie, cheat and steal. They will deny or minimize how they intimidate and abuse others mentally, psychologically, physically or financially.
For someone who can’t fathom that some people refuse to honor basic courtesies or follow normal rules for living in a civilized society, it can be a shock to the psychic system.
To slowly realize that individuals who regularly deceive others exist, justify their actions and simply do not care, flies in the face of conventional wisdom.
In fact, the often-unquestioned belief that good can be found in everyone is one reason many people continuously accept or make excuses for bad behavior from toxic people across the board.
What Andersen does best is clearly show how sociopaths are defined by underlying pathological narcissism
-- evident in their pattern of treating other people with little to no regard.
Everyday behaviors by sociopaths often result in victims subjected to unfair criticism, unpredictable outbursts, direct and indirect threats of abandonment or violence, humiliation and gas-lighting, and routine betrayals even when lying about big and small things makes no sense.
These patterns of interactions can contribute to “crazy-making” that result in losing touch with reality or spiritual crisis for many victims.
The potential for “murder-by-suicide” also exists when someone subjected to abuse over time harms him- or herself due to constant belittling and invalidation by, or commit suicide due to “encouragement” from, a sociopath.
Research on traumatic bonding explains how victims become more attached to sociopaths as a result of feeling powerless, anxious and fearful, due to lacking assertiveness or feeling a sense of obligation or martyrdom as a result of unresolved issues from their own upbringing.
This helps in part shed light on why people on the outside of some exploitive and abusive relationships generally blame the real victims, or express impatience by suggesting victims should just leave a bad relationship right away or should at least have known what someone else was doing behind their back.
Andersen’s book elucidates how insidious the harm caused by sociopaths -- and how anyone can be fooled.
As Andersen’s book also demonstrates, even rough roads with toxic people come to an end. Individuals don’t have to maintain a victim identity after a life turned upside down by a sociopath.
In the aftermath, Andersen questioned what she had always believed about the core goodness of human beings, no longer taking things at face value. She struggled with humiliation, after having her confidence deflated due to Montgomery’s deceit.
She faced her own limitations on the uphill climb to reclaim herself, with renewed clarity and hope restored.
Even if some of the metaphysical and past-life regression experiences described in the book seem strange or overbearing at times, there is tremendous value in the spiritual lessons Andersen shares.
Just as Andersen describes from her own personal growth journey, each of us can explore beliefs that potentially set us up for manipulation by others, whether due to feeling unloved or other unresolved issues from childhood.
We can change our thinking and behaviors to focus more on our own well-being rather than expect to be rescued by a relationship or base hopes and dreams on fairy tales.
We can learn to identify red flag behaviors in people who are toxic.
We can change the way we react to others’ attempts to guilt and shame us. We can learn to avoid being sucked into the drama that sociopaths are adept at creating.
Andersen stresses the importance of having knowledge about sociopaths and what makes them tick.
For many, it is a turning point to help sort through the lies and confusion, and diffuse the effects of manipulation and exploitation.
Such awareness can empower a new sense of personal responsibility and a different perspective that strips the sociopath from his or her pedestal, exposing the shallowness of their existence.
Indeed, the inability of sociopaths to live authentic lives in some ways makes them pitiable, if they were not so dangerous and destructive.
Love Fraud also explores one of our greatest worries about whether good can prevail in the fight against evil.
The answer is yes. There is access to salvation for those who seek it, and many will find direction in Andersen’s insightful and ultimately spiritually-uplifting book.
About the author: Fannie LeFlore, MS, LPC, CADC-D, is an Entrepreneur, Writer/Editor and Licensed Professional Counselor.
These combined career areas are the foundation of the expertise and quality professional services provided by LeFlore Communications, LLC in Milwaukee, Wis. (www.leflorecommunications.com).
LeFlore also was Co-writer/Editor of The Road Less Traveled and Beyond (1997) by M. Scott Peck, MD. Contact Information/Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.