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gabry

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Re: Psychopath attorneys
« Reply #40 on: February 17, 2006, 10:41:56 AM »
Chances are you know several psychopaths.  You sit or sat next to them in your classes.  You work or will work with them in your practice.

In The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us, Harvard professor Martha Stout says that "one in twenty-five of us has no conscience and can do absolutely anything at all without feeling guilty.

Contrary to popular misconception, though a large percentage of murders and rapes are committed by sociopaths, most sociopaths don't commit such crimes.  Most are ostensibly law abiding--because of the legal and social sanctions. A high percentage of them are very smart (often charming too). And a majority of them are strongly attracted to power and so seek professions and authority positions with influence over others--without a desire for the actual responsibility, of course.

When stepping on others benefits them a small amount and costs them nothing, they don't hesitate. Worse, when they can get away with it without repercussion, they make others jump or suffer simply for the sensation of power. (Why not? The harm they cause others doesn't trouble them.)

4% of the population. 1 in 25. More in law than other fields. Pretty shocking, eh? Makes you wonder about those around you doesn't it? As well it should, because that 4% is responsible for a disproportionate share of the needless, intentionally inflicted or callously tolerated, pain and suffering in the world.

The disorder arises in part because of genetics and in part as a result of nurture.  The most popular theory is that it arises from an early attachment disorder.  It's an odd and sad fact that orphaned babies in hospitals die if not handled.  Insufficient physical contact and affectionate/responsive care of a baby's needs inhibits development of certain human qualities--apparently conscience is one of them.

By the way, I would like to stray further from the law and interject here that I think the modern western practice of housing a baby in a separate room and ignoring its cries (a practice only common in a recent fraction of human existence, and still not common practice in most of the world--where sleeping with the baby is still the norm), though endorsed by some modern doctors peddling new parenting concepts such as "teaching the baby to self-soothe" (read: facillitating parent rationalization) is very harmful.  Not only does it cause the baby very real and unnecessary anxiety (throughout evolution abandoned babies were at risk to predators, etc.) and create a lack of trust in their parents, it stunts their development.  Just because lots of other people you know are now isolating their children doesn't mean it's best or even right.  Similarly, the very recent practice of sending babies and toddlers to day care is, though prevalent and in the cases of working mothers often necessary, usually a poor substitute for traditional mother/home care, and may be detrimental.

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Note: Sociopathy and psychopathy are synomyms. Modernly, the APA terms it a personality disorder: the Antisocial Personality Disorder.

In the 19th century, psychopathology was considered to be "moral insanity". Today it is commonly known as "antisocial personality disorder" or "sociopathology." Current experts believe that sociopaths are an unfortunate fusion of interpersonal, biological and sociocultural disasters.

Psychopaths/sociopaths are diagnosed by their purposeless and irrational antisocial behavior, lack of conscience, and emotional vacuity. They are thrill seekers, literally fearless. Punishment rarely works, because they are impulsive by nature and fearless of the consequences. Incapable of having meaningful relationships, they view others as fodder for manipulation and exploitation. According to one psychological surveying tool (DSM IIIR) between 3 - 5% of men are sociopaths; less than 1% of female population are sociopaths.

Psychopaths often make successful businessmen or world leaders. Not all psychopaths are motivated to kill. But when it is easy to devalue others, and you have had a lifetime of perceived injustices and rejection, murder might seem like a natural choice.

The following are environmental factors, psychiatrists say, which create a sociopath:

• Studies show that 60% of psychopathic individuals had lost a parent;

• Child is deprived of love or nurturing; parents are detached or absent;

• Inconsistent discipline: if father is stern and mother is soft, child learns to hate authority and manipulate mother;

• Hypocritical parents who privately belittle the child while publicly presenting the image of a "happy family".

According to Dr. J. Reid Meloy, author of The Psychopathic Mind: Origins, Dynamics, and Treatment, the psychopath is only capable of sadomasochistic relationships based on power, not attachment. Psychopaths identify with the aggressive role model, such as an abusive parent, and attack the weaker, more vulnerable self by projecting it onto others. As multiple murderer Dennis Nilsen put it, "I was killing myself only but it was always the bystander who died."

Dr. Meloy writes that in early childhood development, there is a split in the infant psychopath: the "soft me" which is the vulnerable inside, and the "hard not-me" which is the intrusive, punishing outside (neglectful or painful experiences.) The infant comes to expect that all outside experiences will be painful, and so he turns inward. In an attempt to protect himself from a harsh environment, the infant develops a "character armor," distrusting everything outside, and refusing to allow anything in. The child refuses to identify with parents, and instead sees the parent as a malevolent stranger.

Soon, the child has no empathy for anyone. The wall has been built to last. "Human nature is a nuisance, and fills me with disgust. Every so often one must let off steam, as it were," said "Acid Bath Murderer" John Haigh.

In normal development, the child bonds with the mother for nurturing and love. But for the psychopath, the mother is experienced as an "aggressive predator, or passive stranger." In the case of violent psychopaths, including serial killers, the child bonds through sadomasochism or aggression. According to Meloy, "This individual perversely and aggressively does to others as a predator what may, at any time, be done to him."

mendeleiev

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Re: Psychopath attorneys
« Reply #41 on: February 20, 2006, 05:35:18 PM »
Lawyers resemble very much to the ancient Jew priests who were people who lied coolly and easily, even when it is obvious they were being untruthful. It was almost impossible for them to be consistently truthful about either a major or minor issue. They lie for no apparent reason, even when it would be easier and safer to tell the truth. This is sometimes called "crazy lying". Confronting their lies may provoke an unpredictably intense rage or simply a Buddha-like smile.

Another form of lying common among ancient Jew priests leaders was known as "pseudologica fantastica," an extension of pathological lying. They tend to create a complex belief system, often about their own powers and abilities, in which they themselves sometimes get caught up. It is often difficult to determine whether the lies are an actual delusional distortion of reality or are expressed with the conscious or unconscous intent to deceive.

These manipulators are rarely original thinkers. Plagerists and thieves, they seldom credit the true originators of ideas, often coopting authorship. They are extremely convincing, forceful in the expression of their views, and talented at passing lie detector tests. For them, objective truth does not exist. The only "truth" is whatever will best achieve the outcome that meets their needs.

jisel

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Re: Psychopath attorneys
« Reply #42 on: February 26, 2006, 08:44:10 PM »
Very interesting ..

braggadocio

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Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder
« Reply #43 on: May 13, 2006, 06:01:14 PM »
Many attorneys suffer from NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

Narcissism, in human psychology is the pattern of thinking and behaving which involves infatuation and obsession with one's self to the exclusion of others. It may be seen manifest in the chronic pursuit of personal gratification and public attention, in social dominance and personal ambition, braggadocio, insensitivity to others (lack of empathy) and/or excessive dependence on others to meet his/her responsibilities in daily living and thinking.

The narcissist has an unhealthily high self-esteem. For the narcissist, self-worth is the belief that he/she is superior to his/her fellow humans; it is not enough to be "okay" or "pretty good," the narcissist can only feel worthwhile by experiencing him/herself as the "best". From childhood through adulthood, this narcissistic belief may be reinforced by others to the extent that the narcissist is actually competent, intelligent and/or attractive, or is manipulative enough to get others to make him/her seem competent, intelligent or attractive.

The narcissist most often comes to the attention of the mental health profession when, beset by some personal failure or having otherwise become aware of his/her lack of superiority, he/she falls into an acute depressive or anxiety state, or even becomes temporarily psychotic. Unfortunately, the emergence of such states has often been misinterpreted by mental health professionals as a sign that the narcissist fundamentally suffers from low self esteem. As a result, psychotherapy often ends up simply restoring the narcissism rather than helping the patient accept his/her true equality and mortality.

Conversely, narcissists who are repeatedly confronted with their own human limitations - often due to a lack of skills, intelligence, looks or social support necessary to maintain external reinforcement of their ultimate superiority - may become frustrated, angry and even dangerously aggressive. At this point, the narcissistic may evolve into a sociopath.

The term narcissism was first used in relation to human psychology by Sigmund Freud after the figure of Narcissus in Greek mythology (right). Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. As a punishment, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus.



A narcissistic personality disorder as defined by the DSM (see DSM cautionary statement) is characterized by an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts. Five (or more) of the following criteria are considered necessary for the clinical diagnosis to be met:

- Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements);
- Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;
- Firmly convinced that they are unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions);
- Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation — or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply);
- Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with their unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment.
- Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve their own ends;
- Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;
- Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of their frustration.
- Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions stemming from a belief that others are envious of them and are likely to act similarly;
- Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, "above the law", and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people they consider inferior to themselves and unworthy.


The NPD is very deceiving -- there are many people who suffer in fact from the Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder instead of NPD. CNPD is characterized by a pervasive pattern of unstable, overtly narcissistic behaviors that derive from an underlying sense of insecurity and weakness rather than from genuine feelings of self-confidence and high self-esteem, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by ten (or more) of the following:

- seeks to create an illusion of superiority and to build up an image of high self-worth;
- has disturbances in the capacity for empathy;
- strives for recognition and prestige to compensate for the lack of a feeling of self-worth;
- may acquire a deprecatory attitude in which the achievements of others are ridiculed and degraded;
- has persistent aspirations for glory and status;
- has a tendency to exaggerate and boast;
- is sensitive to how others react to him or her, watches and listens carefully for critical judgment, and feels slighted by disapproval;
- is prone to feel shamed and humiliated and especially hyper-anxious and vulnerable to the judgments of others;
- covers up a sense of inadequacy and deficiency with pseudo-arrogance and pseudo-grandiosity;
- has a tendency to periodic hypochondria;
- alternates between feelings of emptiness and deadness and states of excitement and excess energy;
- entertains fantasies of greatness, constantly striving for perfection, genius, or stardom;
- has a history of searching for an idealized partner and has an intense need for affirmation and confirmation in relationships;
- frequently entertains a wishful, exaggerated, and unrealistic concept of himself or herself which he or she can't possibly measure up to;
- produces (too quickly) work not up to the level of his or her abilities because of an overwhelmingly strong need for the immediate gratification of success;
- is touchy, quick to take offense at the slightest provocation, continually anticipating attack and danger, reacting with anger and fantasies of revenge when he or she feels frustrated in his or her need for constant admiration;
- is self-conscious, due to a dependence on approval from others;
- suffers regularly from repetitive oscillations of self-esteem;
- seeks to undo feelings of inadequacy by forcing everyone's attention and admiration upon himself or herself;
- may react with self-contempt and depression to the lack of fulfillment of his or her grandiose expectations.

eraprank

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NES
« Reply #44 on: May 24, 2006, 01:08:28 PM »
Many attorneys suffer from NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

Narcissism, in human psychology is the pattern of thinking and behaving which involves infatuation and obsession with one's self to the exclusion of others. It may be seen manifest in the chronic pursuit of personal gratification and public attention, in social dominance and personal ambition, braggadocio, insensitivity to others (lack of empathy) and/or excessive dependence on others to meet his/her responsibilities in daily living and thinking.

The narcissist has an unhealthily high self-esteem. For the narcissist, self-worth is the belief that he/she is superior to his/her fellow humans; it is not enough to be "okay" or "pretty good," the narcissist can only feel worthwhile by experiencing him/herself as the "best". From childhood through adulthood, this narcissistic belief may be reinforced by others to the extent that the narcissist is actually competent, intelligent and/or attractive, or is manipulative enough to get others to make him/her seem competent, intelligent or attractive.

The narcissist most often comes to the attention of the mental health profession when, beset by some personal failure or having otherwise become aware of his/her lack of superiority, he/she falls into an acute depressive or anxiety state, or even becomes temporarily psychotic. Unfortunately, the emergence of such states has often been misinterpreted by mental health professionals as a sign that the narcissist fundamentally suffers from low self esteem. As a result, psychotherapy often ends up simply restoring the narcissism rather than helping the patient accept his/her true equality and mortality.

Conversely, narcissists who are repeatedly confronted with their own human limitations - often due to a lack of skills, intelligence, looks or social support necessary to maintain external reinforcement of their ultimate superiority - may become frustrated, angry and even dangerously aggressive. At this point, the narcissistic may evolve into a sociopath.

The term narcissism was first used in relation to human psychology by Sigmund Freud after the figure of Narcissus in Greek mythology (right). Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. As a punishment, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus.




by A. Harrison Barnes, Esq.

The word narcissism comes from the character made famous by the Greek poet Ovid, Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection. In the story, Echo falls in love with Narcissus and gets rejected. The story makes clear that Narcissus is only able to love himself and not others. Conversely, Echo completely loses herself in her love for Narcissus and has no sense of self at all. At the end of the story, Narcissus tells Echo, "I would die before I give you power over me." Echo responds, "I give you power over me." Both Narcissus and Echo die because their love is unattainable. Many of us cannot find a balance between ourselves and others.

One of the greatest problems facing young associates inside law firms is what I call Narcissistic Entitlement Syndrome ("NES"). Attorneys who suffer from NES often very quickly find themselves out of jobs, whether they quit, are fired, or simply move among employers to deal with the disorder. I need to be clear that this, in my opinion, is an extremely serious subject and something I believe probably at least 10% of the associates in large and prestigious law firms suffer from. This is a disorder I see virtually every week in my conversations with attorneys, and it is something that will cause problems in your career.

This article (a) defines NES and its symptoms and (b) explores the effects of the Entitlement Syndrome on your career.

A. NES Defined

NES, in its shortest form, can be defined as an attorney being inwardly focused and oblivious to the people and organizations around him/her that he/she is supposed to serve. I link the concepts of entitlement and narcissism in this syndrome because the sense of entitlement most often has narcissistic undertones. Attorneys with NES see themselves as special, believe they should have whatever they want regardless of the feelings of others, and continually inflate themselves while putting others down. There are five major characteristics that attorneys with NES often have.

- First, they are generally preoccupied with fantasies of limitless brilliance, power, and success. While this may be something that many attorneys have, the attorney with NES will generally be quite consumed with these fantasies. Advancement and achievement are extremely important to them, and they envision the environment around them as one where they should be the center of others' attention due to their achievements.

- Second, attorneys with NES generally have an exaggerated sense of self-importance that is not commensurate with their actual level of achievement. They expect to be recognized as superior to others without a corresponding level of achievement. An attorney with NES will also generally exaggerate his/her achievements to others. Indeed, attorneys with NES like to speak about their achievements (and do) quite frequently. As a product of these fantasies, the attorney will often show a very arrogant attitude. The attorney with NES believes he/she is special and should only associate and work for other high-status people and institutions.

- Third, attorneys with NES generally lack empathy and are unwilling (or unable) to identify with the needs or feelings of others. Interpersonally, they are often quite exploitative and take advantage of others in order to achieve their own ends. In this respect, the attorney with NES often views those around him/her as objects to be manipulated to be in service of his/her ultimate fantasies of power, for example.

- Fourth, attorneys with NES are most often very envious of those around them with advantages they do not have and believe that others are also envious of them.

- Fifth, attorneys with NES require excessive admiration. They need constant approval from those around them. The NES attorney believes that he/she should be admired by others.

eraprank

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Re: Psychopath attorneys
« Reply #45 on: May 24, 2006, 01:08:40 PM »
While the psychological underpinnings of this could certainly be explored in great detail, the narcissism is usually something that the attorney has developed as a façade and coping mechanism to deal with underlying feelings of defectiveness and isolation. When such attorneys and their work are criticized, they often react with great internal rage because they believe their self-image has been deflated. Their response is often to isolate themselves, and they may do so by leaving the practice of law, switching firms, or simply having rage for those who have criticized them.

There is a difference between health and unhealthy narcissism inside a law firm. It is, of course, healthy to have a basic sense of your rights. You have a right to not be treated unfairly, and you also have a right to be proud of your achievements and to tell others about them. Narcissism becomes unhealthy, however, if you become obsessed with having people think you are special, and not just having a sense of your own rights, but not really caring about the rights of others.

In an essay, "Working with Problems of Narcissism in Entrepreneurial Organizations," Richard Ruth of the University of Virginia writes:

Quote
"Contemporary practitioners, both clinical and organizational, are faced with the pervasive presence of narcissistic disorders in those who consult us. It is a disquieting encounter, because-even as we recognize that our work to understand and assist persons and organizations with narcissistic pathology has increased the reach and efficacy of our interventions, and the lessons of this work in turn have transformatively affected psychoanalytic theories-there are particular qualities to work with narcissism that are painful to work with analytically, perhaps in significant part because they militate against a defensive introduction of non-analytic methods into analytic work. It is in the nature of narcissistically organized persons, and perhaps also, I will argue, narcissistic organizations, to deny the reality of the other (i.e., the analyst), to wrench the analyst into playing a hated but necessary part in the patient's internal drama, to try to disable or destroy the analyst in the service of a soothing return to a narcissistic self-sufficiency, and to project into the analyst, with resentful hatred, a whole internal world of persecutory and toxic part-objects, as the first step toward eventual understanding, health, and wholeness."
 

While this quote may seem overly complex, it does elucidate a final characteristic of NES that I believe merits consideration: The attorney with NES will not confront his weaknesses due to the fact that to do so would interfere with his sense of self. Instead, institutions and persons that call into question the sense of self of the attorney with NES will be considered toxic. As a final point, this explains why attorneys with NES may move firms frequently or leave the practice of law.

B. The Effects of NES on an Attorney's Career

While I realize the picture painted above of NES may appear extreme, it is important to note that NES is something that is quite common among the highest-performing attorneys. Again, I would estimate that more than 10% of first-year associates in major law firms have NES and will have difficult careers for that reason.

Regarding attorneys with NES, it is generally the associates who have come from the very best American law schools and have had a historical pattern of academic achievement that is nothing short of extraordinary. As I am sure you can understand from the above discussion, NES is something that can actually create the sort of superachiever who shows up to work at a major law firm. In a scholastic environment-where the attorney has the luxury of choosing most of his/her courses, can work hard and get immediate feedback via grades and in conditions where the intelligence of the attorney with NES is such that he/she can perform at such a high academic level-he/she is likely to thrive. Moreover, a goal of attending law school and becoming a powerful lawyer fits in perfectly with the fantasies of the attorney with NES.

It is very easy for me to detect NES when speaking with young attorneys. An attorney with NES generally believes that he/she should be given the type of work that he/she wants. These attorneys also tend to believe that they are extremely intelligent and valuable to their employers. In addition, these sorts of attorneys tend to be very calculating and analyze most situations vis-a-vis whether or not they are getting the upper hand. If they are criticized by their employers, they may simply leave.

As a recruiter, I can tell you that I see this happening all the time. Because our firm solicits telephone calls and interest from the highest-caliber attorneys on a daily basis, the NES attorney is one of the sorts of attorneys we often speak with most frequently. The following similarities generally define the attorneys with NES I speak with:

-They generally have not worked at a "real job" before starting as a first-year associate inside a law firm;
- They generally did exceptionally well in college and attended a top-10 law school (NES, in fact, appears to be more likely the better the law school the person attended);
- They generally come from a sheltered upper-middle-class background, or their parents were academics; and,
- They generally believe they are smarter than the people they are working with.

In essence, the attorney with NES would likely never make it into a prestigious law firm had he/she not been sheltered by school, parents, and others for so long. The artificial academic environment; the home environment of privilege; the positive feedback from academic institutions, where social dynamics are not as emphasized as academic might; and the lack of prior work experience all serve to isolate the NES attorneys and allow their conditions to grow in the absence of a "real" environment. While I would be the first to argue that a law firm is not necessarily a "real" environment, it is much more so the real world than school or an upper-middle-class upbringing is.

The issue with NES inside a law firm is that the attorney with it is in service of themselves. For the most part, being an associate in a law firm is something that is not going to quickly lead to massive glory, riches, or fame. Instead, you are being hired to work hard and make the firm money. In your first 10-15 years, there will be little opportunity for the sort of continual positive feedback and the sorts of reassurances the NES attorney has. In addition, this personality type is not always well suited to the practice of law because attorneys, by nature, are supposed to be focused on the needs of their clients. As an associate, you need to be focused on the needs of the partners you are working for as well as the clients whose work you are doing.

The irony of all this, of course, is that the legal environment is perfectly suited to bringing in young attorneys with NES due to the isolationist factors that are present prior to their entering law firms. These attorneys are never happy inside law firms, the partners they are working for are often astounded by their behavior, and the associates they initially work with often do not know whether to fear NES attorneys or simply resent them. What usually happens to the NES attorney is he/she does not hold up well to the initial criticism all new attorneys get regarding their work products. They do not take orders well, nor do they understand why other associates are considered to be their peers. Such associates most often leave the law very quickly with fantasies about achievement in a work environment that is not of the same caliber of the one they got into initially out of law school. Or they may switch between firms for a few years. Some start their own law firms. A few stick with it and "get better."

C. Conclusions

The seriousness of this topic is far greater than I am even letting on. While this topic has gone unexplored in the legal profession, it is very real and something that affects countless attorneys, especially the ones who appear strongest on paper coming out of law school. I do not pretend to know the answers. Certainly, the inability to find a balance between one's self and others is a condition that is serious. Recognizing the presence of a problem like this is probably the first step. The second step, then, would be correcting the problem by getting help. The entire problem with the condition, though, is that those who need help for it are also very likely to never admit they have this condition.

If you have completed reading this article, you most likely do not have NES because if you did, you would not confront it by reading this article. You would have stopped several paragraphs ago. What you should understand, though, is that the attorneys you work with who have NES are likely on a dangerous collision course with failure. If the NES attorney does not fail within your organization, the chances are good he/she can negatively affect you if you work with him/her. Do your best to avoid NES attorneys.

expnet

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Re: Psychopath attorneys
« Reply #46 on: May 25, 2006, 09:38:47 AM »
Amazing post, eraprank!

lil

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Re: Psychopath attorneys
« Reply #47 on: May 25, 2006, 12:51:55 PM »
Indeed, expnet, and I think it'd be awesome if eraprank would also post a primer on the greedness, laziness and assholeness of law firm partners, I forgot what exactly the syndrome is called! 

arista

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Re: Psychopath attorneys
« Reply #48 on: May 29, 2006, 09:25:57 PM »
Amen!

sleepwaking

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Re: Psychopath attorneys
« Reply #49 on: May 30, 2006, 08:11:06 AM »
Budlaw = erapitt