Make no mistake, all of the defining characteristics of character disturbance (e.g., deficient empathy and conscience, sense of entitlement, penchant for manipulation and impression-management, etc.) are at work in anyone who sexually abuses.

Programs that employ CBT principles have a good chance of doing some good. They at least have a better chance than those programs that operate from the traditional misguided perspective that abusers are wounded, love-hungry, insecure, self-esteem-deficient individuals, out of touch with their feelings, lacking in communication skills, and who simply know no other way to cope. But even some of the better CBT-based programs have some disturbing weaknesses. That’s partly because they often focus so heavily on the person’s thinking patterns and attitudes and not directly or intensely enough on their typical behavior patterns. It’s also because the prevailing but erroneous perspective guiding their structure is that anger is always the main precipitant of aggressive behavior.

Psychology needs to set aside our outdated, well-intended but purely speculative and unverifiable notions about who we are and why we do the things we do and build on the hard science we’ve acquired about our species and the natural world around us.

Some individuals’ disregard for others goes far beyond simply not caring very much about them to purposely wanting to hurt, exploit, manipulate, and most especially, to dominate them, and that makes them capable of the most serious kinds of relational abuse.

For the most part, narcissists exhibit a passive disregard for (i.e. they simply don’t concern themselves with) the wants, needs, and desires of others, including those they purport to love. But the more malignant their narcissism is, the more active their disregard of others’ concerns can become, wantonly crossing boundaries and exceeding reasonable limits with a disturbing sense of entitlement. But whether their disregard for others is active or passive in character, it can engender substantial abuse and exploitation in their relationships.