Anti Social Personality Disorder and Bernard Madoff

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Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

13. When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive.

14. Callousness and Lack of Empathy


People invested with Mr. Madoff because he won their trust. They came to believe that he had their best interests at heart and that he would do nothing to hurt them. Their trust came to be totally misguided. He has left in his wake, ruined lives. Countless numbers of people who planned to live off of their investments during their retirement are left with nothing, including those who are presently elderly and are suddenly unable to pay their medical bills and are even left homeless. 

This is a partial profile of the anti social personality disordered person. However, it provides a fairly clear idea of who they are. One of the most striking aspects of these persons is their ability to charm others. People like Madoff are able to win friends and advocates because they seem to be so warm and sincere in their behaviors and attitudes. However, this is all facade and, in reality, they are able to cause huge amounts of harm without the least bit of regret.

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It is also true that it is nearly impossible to treat such a person with psychotherapy because of their lack of conscience and need to lie and deceive.

Did Mr. Madoff fit all the characteristics listed here? Probably not but he does fit enough of them so that he comes into clear focus.

A friend of mine, discussing the case of Mr. Madoff, asked me if I thought he felt the least bit of sorrow now that he is in prison? I thought about this for a moment or two and concluded that the answer is "No," he feels no remorse. You see, the temptation is to want to believe that he is sorry for all the pain he caused but, I do not believe that is true. For the rest of us, the answer would be yes but not for Mr. Madoff. This friend of mine, also a mental health professional, pointed out that there is something missing in people like Madoff. He is quite correct about this. 

Do you know someone with some of these characteristics?

Your comments and questions are encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.

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