Individual therapy for recovering partners of psychopathic individuals

At present, there are no evidence-supported interventions for partners or former partners of psychopathic individuals. A survey of 301 people, who had received individual psychotherapy for issues related to a long-term relationship with a psychopathic individual was conducted to determine interventions found most helpful and unhelpful by victims [101]. Also of interest was whether therapists were judged knowledgeable regarding the construct of psychopathy and the problem of psychopathy and the family. A minority of therapists were reported to have knowledge of psychopathy and its impact on the family. Participants reported invalidating responses, unhelpful, and harmful therapy when therapists lacked knowledge of psychopathy. In open-ended and Likert responses, participants stated that understanding their former partner’s personality disorder helped them make meaning of their experiences. Effective meaning making reduced self-blame and assisted in overcoming the distorted cognitions imparted to them by their abuser. Traditional approaches to family violence that attribute abuse to patriarchy as opposed to personality disorder may not be well suited for family members of psychopathic individuals. Such approaches do not assist with meaning making and risk of re-victimization related to pairing with another psychopathic individual. Furthermore, men victims of psychopathic partners require therapeutic assistance and do not fit the traditional model of domestic violence [88]. Former partners who share children with a psychopathic parent may not be able to cease having contact with their abuser. They need help learning effective strategies for dealing with the psychopathic co-parent (unfortunately, there are no data on effective strategies to provide them). These parents also need extensive support to provide the kind of nurturing parenting that will mitigate genetic risk for psychopathy [102].

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