When the #MeToo movement began in earnest, women came forward, one after another, to reveal their own experiences with sociopathic sex addicts. At that point, I realized the behavior I'd witnessed was far more widespread than I possible could have imagined. It turned out what I had witnessed wasn't a rare incident.
My story was only unusual in that the perpetrator was a woman. As the news headlines continued to mount, the explanations and accusations built the case that this was a male-only problem. Yet, my experience had taught me that it was absolutely not a problem exclusive to men. One possible reason for the hidden double standard is perhaps men are reluctant to admit being conned by a woman. They don't like to think of women as being sexually driven or manipulative. Even in cases of the fictional "femme fatale," the woman's ultimate motivation is written as a search for economic or political power or for an ulterior mission such as being as a spy.
Even so, we know some women will violate the sisterhood code by stealing men and destroying families without a trace of guilt or remorse. What makes them act that way? Why would a woman take what is not hers, and then casually discard her conquest after the emotional destruction is done? She, just like the accused men making headlines as #MeToo perpetrators, could be a sexopath like my fictional NashvilleKitty inspired by the very real nurse.
If this behavior isn't tied to gender, something bigger is at play. Maybe this is a separate condition, a human abnormality. Maybe it just doesn't have a name yet.
In other words, while it's true that the majority of sexopaths are men (there is a biological reason for this), it is evident this isn't a gender-specific disorder. It's not a problem exclusive to male society. All people need to be made aware of this problem.
While reading yet another report about an unexpected and horrific sexual assault, I decided the novel was not enough. As the sheer volume of sexual misdeeds mounted and perpetrators from every corner of society were implicated in the misbehavior, explanations began popping up for why it was all happening. People blamed power. People blamed locker rooms. People blamed chauvinism and gender inequality.
While all of these factors might play a role, lost in the conversation was any medical condition to explain the phenomenon. Someone needed to step out and speak up - and I don't mean about another case of sexual misconduct. Someone needed to at least attempt to give victims the balm to heal and those vulnerable the tools to protect themselves. Someone needed to call the phenomenon what it was.
Why Not Me?
The product of this inquiry resulted in the creation of my first non-fiction book Charming Cheaters: Protect Yourself from the Sociopaths, Psychopaths, and Sexopaths in Your Life. It's by no means an attempt to be comprehensive. I conducted no experiments. I am not presenting thousands of pages of quantitative data. This is solely from the perspective of both a medical professional and a concerned citizen who believes that a little knowledge might save people from the dangers that I - and so many others, to a much more severe extent - have experienced.
In medical school, I trained in psychiatry and did additional psychiatric rotations during fellowship. For the last few years I have investigated all I could find on this topic and even completed additional training to administer the PCL-R as a trained medical professional. I use my knowledge of psychiatry on a daily basis treating my patients and view mental health equally important to physical health when treating the whole patient As a board-certified hospice geriatrician, I deal with the frailest of the frail. I meet patients and families when they are at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives. It is definitely a job requiring a conscience and the capacity to feel empathy.
I realize some medical professionals may question my qualitative findings. At the same time, some casual readers may not want to believe these dangers exist. But I think there are many of you who feel deeply that something is horribly wrong with someone who is a part of your life - you just don't know what.
I'm here to suggest that the "what" you've worried about can be captured in an eight-letter word: Sexopath.