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cathy, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1436
Experience:  MS., MS.Ed., 30 years clinical and administrative experience in psychiatry and mental health
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My ex-wife is a sociopath and she is the primary care-giver

Customer Question

My ex-wife is a sociopath and she is the primary care-giver of our children. She is unbelievable to deal with and I fear it is affecting our children as well. Her brainwashing tactics are severe and she needs to be dealt with.
Can a child psychologist detect the mother is a sociopath and if so do the courts take this seriously to where they might give the kids to the father for day-to-day care?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  cathy replied 6 years ago.
cathy :

Hi and thanks for writing JA

cathy :

are you there customer?

cathy :

Let us know when you are back online and we can chat about this further


I am here

Expert:  cathy replied 6 years ago.

Hi I am sorry we keep missing each other in chat but your question is important so let me try to respond from here.

First of all, sociopath is not a psychiatric term, while it is used on tv and perhaps in court, we have no diagnosis with that name. The closest we have to sociopath is something called anti social personality disorder. I am going to send you a link below that will give you that definition which as you can see is synonymous with sociopath.

I work several hundred cases such as that you are describing each year in court. I can tell you that without a bona fide diagnosis from a mental health professional, no judge in family court will take you seriously. Just about everyone walks in and says, my spouse is a sociopath, narcissist, borderline and the judges have heard it all before and the department of childrens services have heard it all before and it just makes the accusing spouse look silly.

My advice to you is to get a bona fide diagnosis from a mental health professional and go in armed with that. If you cannot do that, then do not label her. Instead clearly document her behaviors that you think fit the criteria for anti social personality disorder or sociopath. For example if you have witnessed her torture small animals and laugh about it, set fires to buildings and so on, document document document. At the same time that you have his documentation be prepared to tell the court why you did not report these behaviors for all the years you were together, least you be seen as an accessory or an abettor.

Now, I know you are not going to like my answer but you did ask for an expert answer and not the
"tell me what I want to hear answer"

so I am giving you that.

If you go in and you say ""my ex wife is a sociopath" they are going to roll their eyes behind your back and not do a thing. Instead go in with a clearly detailed list of behaviors that you can prove that would prove her an unfit parent.

I do think what you are describing is not sociopathic (and I do believe you and I am on your side on what you say). My guess is she is guilty of something called parental alienation which again is not a syndrome accepted in the field of psychiatry but it now gaining a l ot of notice in the courts.

I would surely go in and tell the judge and cite examples of where you think this has happened and call the judge's attention to that behahior. The judge can then rule that your ex wife cut out the nonsense. She can no longer devalue you in front of your children, lie or manipulate as she has and if she violates that court order and you can prove that she violated the court order you actually are in a position to renegotiate your custody agreement.

Remember the court likes logic/reason and frowns upon emotion (and I know you are furious with her and have grounds for that but remember what you tell your therapist in a confidential relationship is entirely different from what you say in court). If you go in and you present yourself calmly, and without name calling (e.g.,my ex wife is a sociopath) and you clearly present your case you will appear to be logical and reasonable and have much more sway. If you go in with emotion and unfounded diagnoses they are going to look at you as if you are one of the thousands of bitter and resentful ex spouses that they see all day, day after day, week after week and so on.

Be smart.

She may be a real witch and she may even have some real anti social behaviors but that is something you share with me or your therapist and not the court.

Okay I am going to send you two links

the first is a definition of anti social personality disorder and if she has that disorder

and you have a diagnosis from a mental health professional you can run with it

and if not

the second link will tell you about parental alienation syndrome so check and see if you have it.

Now I already know my answer is not what you which to hear but it is the expert answer and it would unethical of me to lie to you and take your money.

I know you are in pain and you are frustrated out of your mind

but better to be well armed with information than comforted with a few nice words from me.

That said, I hope I have given you enough ammo to go in and win!

Keep your cards close to your vest, level head and if you think your kids are at risk do not stop fighting for them.

Here are those links:

Please let me know if there is anything at all I can do to help you further on this.
I wish you only all the best on this.