Psychopath Free (2015) explains the psychopath’s strategies to control and abuse his victims.
It’s based on the author’s own experience, plus what he has learned networking and helping other psychopaths’ survivors. Ultimate, this book is a guide to help people who have been -or are- in a relationship with a psychopath.
- Bullet Summary
- Full Summary
- Real-Life Applications
- Psychopath Free Criticism
- Psychopaths feel nothing, but they fake emotions to make you fall desperately in love and hook you in
- It starts with love and idealization, then they turn the tables on you, then they dump you
- Psychopaths feed on unhealthy needs: cure those but don’t become a dark person
Jackson MacKenzie says that getting involved with a psychopath is a dark journey that will take you into depression, rage, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts.
But it will also open your eyes on human nature, society and your own self.
And ultimately, it will heal you and make you stronger.
Psychopath free is a book to help you along that journey.
What’s a Psychopath?
The author says that a psychopath is a manipulative individual.
They are completely devoid of empathy and intentionally harm others without any feeling of remorse or regret.
In a relationship, psychopaths behave the exact same way as sociopaths and narcissists.
Their relationship, says the author, follows the same pattern:
Spotting Toxic People
Psychopath Free has a list of 30 points to spot and recognize toxic people.
Here are the ones which I found most relevant:
- Gaslighting and crazy-making (deny their lies and manipulative behavior)
- Always your fault (you’re too sensitive or crazy)
- Can’t understand you (you’re always explaining your feelings)
- Hypocrisy (high expectations for you that they don’t meet)
- Lying and excuses
- Focus on your mistakes (and ignore their own)
- Need for attention
- Provoke emotions, then accuse you of being too emotional/jealous
- You play detective
- They have cheering fans that adore them (and exes and potential lovers)
- You fear that a fight can end your relationship
- Encroach your boundaries
- Disrespect you
- Withhold attention (and undermine your self-esteem)
- Expect you to read their mind (if plans changed, you should have guessed it)
- You feel on edge, but still want them to like you
- In the beginning, constantly initiate communication
- They seem to be fascinated about you
- Positively compare you to others in their lives
- Later on, negatively compare you to others in their lives
- Your qualities become your faults (albeit that happens to “non-psychopaths” too)
- Cracks in their masks (fleeting moments when they look completely different)
- Easily bored
- Surrounded by former lovers and potential mates
- Pity plays and “poor me” stories
- Push/pull (showering of attention, then ignoring you)
- You spend all time with them or thinking about them
- Sacrifices on your end, but little on their end
- Early humble and sweet appearance turns to arrogance
- Your feelings changed: from love and compassion you’re now anxious and cry lots
For more on spotting toxic people check out this article:
Or read on dark psychology:
The Psychopath Relationship Cycle
The relationship stages with a psychopath follow a pattern of three stages.
1. Idealization Stage
In the idealization stage the psychopath makes their target believe they have met the love of their lives.
The author calls it “love bombing”, and it’s an amoral, Machiavellian strategy that many victims fall for.
They will give you constant praise, make you the center of their world and constantly write you and text you first.
That might sound like the beginning of many love stories, but the problem is that the psychopath doesn’t actually feel anything.
He is just making that stuff up to hook you in.
Albeit Psychopath Free doesn’t say it, some psychopaths are also smart enough not to come too strong and will try to calibrate the attention needed during the idealization stage.
MacKenzie doesn’t say it explicitly, but he seems to detail two different kinds of psychopaths:
- The ones with lots of adoring fans and lovers (sounding high quality)
- The ones who play the pity card and enter your heart by asking for help (low quality)
However the effect is the same.
Eventually you will be smitten by either of them and you will come to depend and idealize both.
The psychopath will try to convey a few key feelings to strengthen his hold on you:
- We are so similar
- We have the same hopes and dreams
- We share the same insecurities
- You’re so beautiful
- I’ve never felt like this before
- We are soul mates
Once you are fully hooked, the psychopath moves to the second stage
2. Devaluing Stage
The first step of the devaluing stage is testing.
The psychopath wants to make sure that you are fully under his spell.
He might go radio silence for a few hours and days when he was previously always texting you.
Or he might use dirty words in bed to test your reaction.
When you react, he will say he was just busy and imply that you’re too needy or jealous.
Of course, he orchestrated everything on purpose.
Deep down you both know that such a huge behavioral shift will be strange, but you will never be able to prove it.
And that’s what makes it so insidious: you can never put your finger on it, never able to provide a final proof to either him or yourself.
During the devaluing stage the dynamics change: he is not chasing you anymore. Now you are chasing him.
You start to be afraid that he might be losing interest, that he might be pulling away.
Or, the horror, that he might dump you.
The threat of breakup is indeed always in the air after the idealization phase.
You are terrified of that possibility and will try your hardest to be on your good behavior, walking on eggshells.
The psychopath makes you feel that it’s you who is ruining everything, and you start believing indeed that you are too needy, jealous and “not good enough” for the psychopath.
You crave his approval.
You hope that if you can only change your behavior or if you can only prove to him how good you are, then he will love you again the way he used to.
The psychopath will actively funnel your internal fire.
He will use a few tried and tested techniques, including:
- Gaslighting (lie and then deny his lie; make you jealous and accuse you of being crazy)
- Silent treatment (letting you stew on your own bad feelings)
- Triangulation (joke with an ex, flirt with someone new)
3. Discard Stage
Eventually the psychopath will dump his victims for a new and fresh target.
MacKenzie says that they will do it in the worst way possible.
If you’re traveling to see them, they will dump while you’re on transit. If you’re going through a tough time, they’ll probably dump you right in the middle of it.
They will jump right to the next target, leaving you a mess while they go about happy and carefree.
The author says they will make it a point to hurt you and to show you happy they are now.
MacKenzie provides an awesome psychological explanation as to why:
Why They Destroy You
They destroy because psychopaths are obsessed with winning.
A psychopath at the same time despises weak victims who beg while at the same time enjoy their power over them.
Their obsession with social dominance also wants to make sure they are getting a better partner. And what’s the best way than to harm and impair the previous ones?
And, finally, they hate you.
You remind them of what they don’t have: love and empathy. They feel superior for not having those feelings, but they also must fake those qualities day and day out.
Gaslighting and Projection
Gaslighting is not always obvious.
Sometimes it’s just about denying a small event or denying ever having said something.
It increases as you drift more and more into a typical abusive relationship.
They will deny the obvious, while you repeat to them over and over exactly what they said. Only to realize though that you sound petty.
They look calm, you look increasingly nervous and on edge acting, indeed, a bit crazy.
And in case you can present actual evidence, the psychopath will punish you with silent treatment and withdrawal.
Psychopaths settle for targets who don’t truly see their nasty behavior.
And the ones they dump are the ones that catch on their games, even if that means they will act crazy and wild.
Here are some characteristics of the best targets for psychopaths:
- Insecure people who find self worth in taking care of others (co-dependent partners)
- Feel happy to make others happy
- Conflict avoiders (set aside issues to maintain semblance of harmony)
- Passive aggressive (people who won’t stand up to them)
- Forgivers (forget and don’t behold grudges)
- Strive to see good in others
- Looking for life-long partners
Psychopaths Put You on the Defensive
This was another great analysis I enjoyed from Mackenzie in Psychopath Free.
He says that the psychopaths will accuse you to put you on the defensive.
It’s because when you defend yourself, you seem guilty by default. And even if you’re not actually guilty of anything, when you defend your own opinion and assumption start to change.
It’s difficult not to defend sometimes if you are not used to this type of behavior.
How can you not defend when your partner, the one who supposedly love you, believes you’re a bad person?
Once you’re on the defensive the psychopath can relax and sit back while you bring about your own submission and emotional demise.
Psychopaths feed on unhealthy needs, not everyday kindness
Watch Out For Evil
Don’t fall for extreme relativism. There are some truly bad and evil people in this world.
Don’t become paranoid but be watchful for the signs.
I highly recommend this article on psychopaths’ abusive strategies:
I have noticed some women who in the beginning started idolizing me. If you are idolizing someone, something might not be fully right (unless he’s also willing to commit long term, in which case it could be amazing, but make sure of it).
It’s also a good idea to always keep a strong social network around you an a life with more interests.
Psychopath Free Criticism
This will be a long list of cons because I had quite a few reservations.
However, keep in mind that I am always more critical of (potentially) great and life changing books and there is much good in Psychopath Free.
Very Light on Facts and Psychology
The author presents his book as the description -and solution- for a relationship with a psychopath, sociopath, narcissist, histrionic and borderline personality disorder.
All of them? That doesn’t make sense to me. They are related, but they’re not the same!
Underwhelming Psychological Profile of Victims
His 30 points on signs of a psychopath is great, but the 30-point psychological profile of the victims didn’t resonate with me.
It seemed general, rather random and plucked out of thin air. And missing on some of the most important aspects that he failed to recognize (ie.: little experience; pensive; introvert; isolated; idealistic; potentially low sexual market value; little options; etc. etc.)
Not All Victims Stalk Exes
The author discusses the “typical behavior” of a psychopath victim. I don’t know how typical it actually is, but it seemed like the textbook wrong approach to a breakup.
The Next Target Has It Better (Not)
The author says that an element that makes the breakup so painful is that the next target gets from the psychopath something that you never got.
The author implies that the next target factually, always has it better than you.
But that’s a statistical impossibility, because it would mean psychopaths always move towards better and more serious relationships.
Obviously, that’s rarely the case.
The author seems to assume a lot about the victims, and it’s certainly not based on any data or scientific argument.
For example, talking about boundaries:
The problem is, boundaries and self-respect are completely foreign to you at this point. So when you begin to manifest these things, you feel like a selfish, abrasive jerk. When in reality, you’ve just stopped playing the role of a selfless doormat.
I don’t think it’s helpful to imply all victims are doormats.
Made Up Concepts
The author makes up a few concepts, like the idea of “the light” that is gone after the relationship with a psychopath.
I didn’t get that point too well and didn’t particularly resonate with me (but this could be just me).
Albeit I don’t like extreme relativism, I also didn’t find helpful how the author painted with a thick brush all the Cluster B personalities as the scourges of God.
And I didn’t particularly appreciate the ranting against “psychopath politicians” who allegedly swindle and defraud of the masses of idealists.
The Sociopath Next Door makes the point that most sociopaths are not highly successful. I find it disingenuous to believe that all power positions go to psychopaths.
Too Long And Repetitive
Psychopath Free has some really good content.
But it repeats over and over.
Paraphrasing the same concepts a few times can help flashing it out a and cementing it in our mind.
But repeating it a hundred times is a waste of time.
In my opinion Psychopath Free badly needed some editing for structure and conciseness.
I found this book to be rather contradictory.
First, it says psychopaths know how to touch you, give you great sex and have a tribe of adoring fans.
Then it says that in the beginning you pity them and you felt like helping them.
Which one is which?
They don’t seem very compatible descriptions, and if it’s two different styles, the author should have made that clearer.
Website Closed (And Some Contradictions)
The book talks a lot about the forum the author has founded.
Alright, great stuff if it helps people.
So I wanted to register to the forum to find more information.
But… The forum is closed to new members. Why if it was helping people out?
Also the notice about the closure reads:
PF has grown from a small website into a thriving community with millions of monthly visitors
I checked PF on Alexa and it ranks around the top 700k websites. That’s much less than this website, and this website does not have millions of visitors (yet).
I was confused.
Super Helpful Resource!
Psychopath Free has helped thousands and thousands of people.
Some review mentions you don’t need a therapist or that the book is better than a therapist (not all therapists are expert in Cluster B relationships indeed).
Mackenzie shares some deep, deep psychology in Psychopath Free that further helped me understand the mindset of psychopaths.
The description of the relationship is very good both from a details point of view and from a psychology perspective.
I have mixed feelings about this book.
Strong mixed feelings in both directions.
Some parts of it are genius and will help lives.
Some other parts are superficial, simplistic and, sometimes, make no sense.
Let’s start with a few observations.
The Author Was An Easy Target
It sounds like the author was an easy target when he first met a psychopath.
He says of himself that he was a closeted gay, a bit of a loner, and insecure without knowing to be insecure. He had never had any previous sexual experience or relationships.
By his own account too, he is a bit of a dreamer.
And the way he comes across, he is more on the introvert and pensive side.
And that’s exactly why the silent treatment was so effective on him.
That combination usually makes for easy targets.
And it usually makes for much bigger pain when the discard happens.
I felt for the author and I was happy to read he was going well.
Maybe, maybe, it wouldn’t be as bad for people who have a bit more of worldly experience.
However, don’t get it wrong, the same can happen to most people.
The way the author tries to “guess” some explanation feels a bit random at times and rather unscientific.
Overall: Very Good
However, Psychopath Free is also an eye opening book.
I am happy that Jackson MacKenzie is helping people who are suffering and is contributing to make the world a better place.
I can highly recommend Psychopath Free to anyone who’s living, has lived, or wants to prevent living the psychopathic relationship.