One could argue that if left to evolve naturally, the discussions on many recovery forums could be beneficial, or at least provide some cathartic value for a short while. Also, it is obvious that staff involvement is sometimes needed to halt genuine trolls, who leave no doubt regarding their intentions.

Of course, since you stumbled upon this blog, you probably know a rational approach will never apply to today’s most popular forums of this type. Let’s take Psychopath Free for example.

There, safety is paramount, given that members are egged on to report each other on suspicions and feelings, instead of actual rule infringements. One is never sure who staff members are meant to guard them against – real or imagined – but rest assured that they are in position day and night. Here’s an encouraging message from the site admin:

People with ulterior motives & agendas can be hard to spot, but there are signs – for example, they do not seem to actually care about the well-being of other members, and instead come across as a bit fake, self-centered, and emotionally disconnected. You will notice EVERY topic always comes back to a lengthy, exhausting story about “My P”, even if the topic has nothing to do with them.

Trust your gut, always. Most of us already learned this lesson the hard way.

And use the report button! There’s one at the bottom of every PM, as well as posts (the little triangle with !). It’s SO fast & easy, and automatically shoots an email to every Admin so we can review it immediately, even if we are not on PF (which is more common for me now that I’m at work). There is absolutely zero penalty or grudge for a false red flag. It takes two seconds to review them, and I would rather get 10 in a day than 0. Reports are GOOD. We do our best to keep up, but with 20,000+ posts, we need to rely on our your intuition as well.

Which reminds me I forgot to call the police about the person who stopped in front of my garden and smiled for a fraction of a second; my gut feeling tells me she was going to steal my begonias. 🙂 Off the top of my head, this video hilariously depicts the paranoia some have about running into “psychos”.

Seriously, the above quote is beyond ridiculous and irresponsible from someone who plays the affectionate brother, if not the pretend therapist, to thousands of vulnerable people.

If those who focus on their story too much are exhausting, here’s an idea: maybe they should write a book about it and promote it as a study on psychopathy, like he did. They could then repeat each aspect a hundred times without becoming tiresome – and they might make a few quid as well.

So what exactly does it take to become a troll on Psychopath Free, aside from thought crimes, selfishness and suspiciously little emotion? Here is a more rigorous guide:

”As this site grows to traffic in the millions, it is only natural that trolls start joining us every now and then. Please be on the lookout for behavior such as:

  • Inflammatory comments
  • Condesceding attitude
  • Accusing anyone who disagrees with them of “censorship” or being unable to handle criticism
  • Sharing an apologist viewpoint of psychopaths (victim blaming, arguing that psychopaths are themselves victims)
  • Mocking others for (rightfully) being offended by their BS
  • Professing to have higher knowledge than others
  • Frequently the center of arguments and flame wars in threads
  • Hijacking topics with comments that have nothing to do with the original post
  • Accusing you of being “afraid of a fight”
  • Bossing others around. That know-it-all attitude is not allowed here.”

It’s funny how many of these lines describe his behaviour and that of his acolytes/ sycophants. Perhaps this blog should have been named Sycophant Free instead; it’s amazing how so many can read these arrogant statements, know they are subject to them and still not call him out on it.

Isn’t accusing someone of flirting or having a hidden agenda (without any proof) inflammatory?

Isn’t trying to guess someone’s thoughts and emotions, or lack thereof, condescending?

Don’t they claim to have the single viable approach to healing, aka “higher knowledge than others” and refuse to deviate from it one quarter of an inch, to the point of considering themselves above all criticism?

Don’t they label people in all sorts of ways for “rightfully being offended” by their BS suspicions and accusations?

Don’t they aim to boss others around to a ridiculous degree, as in  leave your partner right away or we’ll kick you out of this community, in the vein of the Exclusive Brethren?

This guideline is one of the finest examples of hypocrisy and projection I’ve seen on the internet so far (and the internet is a big place).

Besides trolls of the general denomination, there are “concern trolls”, “meddlers” and “troublemakers”. And of course, psychopaths. The rhetoric of all these categories is known as “psychobabble” and “word salad” (regardless of how coherent, logical or polite it may be). Here’s a further briefing by a moderator:

The really obvious psychopaths come on here and proclaim their pathology in the very first post and wear it like a badge, so that makes our job easy. But then there are the very covert, clever ones, who write prolifically, and infiltrate the forum as a regular member. They not only make ten people believe them, but actually make lots of friends and gain a “fan-club” and following of sorts. They come here looking for new supply because there is a whole pool of vulnerable people on recovery forums. This is also why we warn people about safety and befriending other people they don’t know when they’re fresh out of the D&D.

And here’s another cold, hard truth. If 4-6% of the general population is made up of psychopaths, what makes you think those statistics don’t apply everywhere? You can pretty much figure that 4-6% of the members are potential psychopaths too. And your friends list on Facebook? Same thing. People in your office building, a party, any gathering of any kind. Figure on 4-6% being psychopaths.

For all an outsider knows, they are banning people for the very fact that they are gaining a following of sorts with their ideas. Intelligent and creative people are usually charismatic and have a certain magnetism, whereas their forum policy is to quell any originality and put everyone in their designated place. The second paragraph is a push towards paranoia, as if anyone could know the repartition of psychopaths on this planet (the percentage being a mere approximation anyway) , in order to conclude there are some in every building and at every party. A person who lives by this creed will actually look for them in every social situation and that is plain sad. No wonder they end up seeing them everywhere.

From the same page:

You can help us catch the trolls! We really appreciate it when you report suspicious posts via the triangle icon and/or share your concerns privately with us via the Contact the Team link. However, please leave confrontations to us! Arguing with or otherwise engaging someone you suspect to be a troll will only make the situation worse. As Peace wrote, DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!

Isn’t it downright awful for someone to communicate straightforwardly (without deception, sarcasm or any intent of manipulation) and be met by other adults with a thought-stopping do not feed the trolls attitude?  I can almost hear the sheep at Orwell’s Animal Farm going ”Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!”...

This is what human interaction is reduced to over there. Inane finger pointing, labelling and all communication being regulated by staff, down to the last detail.

To think of it, it’s just sad.