Sociopaths in the Scene Pamphlet

Sociopaths impact the alt-sex subcultures. Can you spot one?


One in 25 people has no conscience: they feel no remorse when they cause harm to others. They approach life as a game to be played, and sometimes, we become pawns in their game. This pamphlet is about recognizing them, some of the games they play in the BDSM and Leather social scenes, dealing with their games and recovering from the grief they brought us.

Has someone told you must scene with them, “or else”? Have you been threatened by a domineering person who simply will not take no for an answer? Did you take in a “slave” who seems only interested in being kept as a dependent, who never contributes to your household? Read on!

What is a sociopath?

Someone without conscience, empathy, or remorse for having harmed someone by their words or deeds. They live to suit themselves and use people in the power games that form the core of their lives. (Stout, 2005).

The information here is not intended to be used to diagnose a mental illness. Personal concerns should be addressed by a qualified mental health professional. See the resource links at the bottom.

Have I met a sociopath?

Almost certainly. One in twenty five of us is a sociopath according to Dr. Martha Stout and others.

If you are in the BDSM or Leather scene long enough, you will likely meet someone who labels themselves as dominant, who is charming, deceptive, manipulative, vain, pompous, inappropriately aggressive and sexually reckless.

You may meet someone who labels themselves submissive or slave who at first seems fascinating, but as you get to know them you will realize their goal is to live a parasitic lifestyle at your expense. They want to be unrealistically dependent on you. They say they want to serve, perhaps to be your slave, but in reality they want you to serve and support them.

Scene sociopaths are unconcerned with the consequences of their actions unless those consequences get in the way of their goals.

They mimic accepted behaviors but lack emotional depth.

Am I a sociopath?

Probably not. If after reading this pamphlet, you still have doubts, consult a qualified mental health professional.

How can I tell if someone is a sociopath?

Your initial impression will be of someone charming, but as you get to know them you find them shallow. As you get to know them, you notice several of these:

  • They brag, drop names without knowing the named people, invent or severely rewrite their history. Are they habitually deceptive?
  • They insist you are not submissive enough or dominant enough, declare themselves “real” or “true” while putting down others. Are they habitually manipulative?
  • There has been more than one episode where a safeword was ignored, or discretion ethics were violated. Do they have a reckless disregard for the safety of themselves or others?
  • They promise help but never help, don't keep their word, many aliases online. Are they consistently irresponsible?
  • There is a history of violent criminal activity. Violent sexual felons often target people who are new to BDSM.
  • They are sexually promiscuous. Are they unconcerned about the sexual health of their partners?
  • They don't learn from moral error. Instead of learning from mistakes, do they justify themselves and play the victim?

Common types

The Chickenhawk

He ran his group with an iron hand. He was the most charming man around, held parties at his house, "everyone" seemed to go to them. Nearly everyone new to the group was taken in by his charm and knowledge of the scene. Once he got them alone, he pressed himself on them, and when they resisted, he told them he would ruin their reputation; it would be he who would be believed, not them.

The Romance Scammer

His presentation was always immaculate. He followed protocol very carefully so he was always a pleasure to spend time with at the club. He was romantic, single, seemingly available, helpful, and he had plans and dreams. But one day the woman he was dating found out that he had also pledged his eternal love to two other women he was seeing secretly. All of them were paying his bills, helping him through "a temporary bad time" in his finances. He left town... and tried the same thing again in another state.

The Couch Potato

She was taken in by a loving couple who thought she'd had some bad breaks lately. Soon she was living on their couch, eating their food, playing video games when she wasn't watching TV. After the couple realized things were missing from their home, they believed the only reasonable explanation lay with their guest. They had to take legal action to evict her. She moved to another city and proclaimed herself a victim seeking shelter.

They Crave Power and Money

She wanted a position on the board, but didn't have any skills. She was given the treasury, which consisted of cash in an envelope. The other board members recruited presenters, greeted newcomers, maintained the group web site, and ran the mailing list and online forum. She picked fights with every board member, proclaimed herself the victim of the other board members, confiscated the treasury and left town.

Conscience is our inner sense of what is right or wrong in our conduct or motives, moving us toward right action.

What can we do?

  • Arm yourself with a better understanding of how sociopaths operate in our subculture.
  • When considering someone for any trust relationship, check references. Verify the things they tell you about their scene experience. Seek out people who know them better than you do. Observe their behavior for a period of time long enough to see patterns.
  • It is common to feel confused or disoriented during an encounter with a sociopath. On first realizing you have been manipulated and deceived, it is normal to be shocked and in denial. Afterward, there is often grief, depression, and anger. Seek out a trusted friend and share your experiences in confidence. If emotional distress persists, seek the help of a mental health professional.
  • Don't label someone a sociopath, psychopath, or predator based on a single encounter.
  • Confronting a sociopath directly usually increases the harm they do to you, and negotiation is always fruitless. It is best to withdraw and take steps to preserve your safety and sanity. However, if you are the victim of a crime, consider consulting with a law enforcement officer. Contact an attorney.
  • Tell someone about your encounter. Reach out until someone hears you and understands you. You are not alone.
  • Save every text, email, forum message, voice mail and screenshot. Give them to your attorney and law enforcement officers.
  • Stalking, harassing, revenge porn, blackmail, threats: you may be the victim of a crime. Seek out an advocate who knows the law.
  • After an encounter, turn your energies to doing the good you are capable of doing. Remind yourself daily that truth, beauty, liberty, equality and justice still exist in the world. Work to regain your perspective.

Recommended Reading

Babiak, Paul and Robert D. Hare. Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work. HarperCollins, 2007.

Bernstein, Albert J. Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry. McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Hare, Robert D. Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us. Guilford Press, 1993.

Stern, Robin. The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life. Crown Archetype, 2007.

Stout, Martha. The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless vs. the Rest of Us. Broadway Books, 2005.


Suicide Prevention Hotline

Domestic Violence Hotline

National Leather Association Domestic Violence Project Information Hotline

National Organization for Victim Assistance

Mental Health and Legal Professionals
Justine's List - Fetlife

© 2012-2016 PLK Stables
Principal author, Tim aka Ponygroom
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Revision timestamp: 2/13/2016 15:30


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