Dr. Adelle Forth
Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
Carleton University

Toxic relationships: The impact of psychopathy

Hare (2001) describes psychopaths as “social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets” in their wake (p. xi). With an adept ability to deceive, manipulate, and exploit others, it is not surprising that psychopaths have been a focus of much research. However, until recently there has been little consideration of the victims of psychopaths, the process in which these victims are selected, and the ultimate impact of this victimization. The current presentation will include an examination of the victim selection process and subsequent outcomes for victims of psychopaths. Studies that have examined why psychopathic individuals are able to successfully manipulate others will be discussed. Although, victims of psychopaths have largely been ignored in the psychopathy literature, a range of psychological, physical, interpersonal, and financial consequences have been identified. Research examining victimization experiences reported by intimate partners of psychopaths and by those victimized by psychopaths in the workplace will be presented. Examining how psychopathic individuals manipulate others and the specific consequences experienced by victims of psychopaths will hopefully lead to the development of proactive and targeted strategies aimed at symptom mitigation, recovery, and prevention of future victimization.