Rachel Dolezal─Putting a Face on Sociopathic Lying
Rachel Dolezal is a White woman who pretended she was Black. As a "Black" woman she had paid positions as an advocate for people of color. Her identity misrepresentation can’t be excused away by terms like transracial or imagining that she did it for the good of others.
This isn’t just someone who was trying to do good but ran amuck.
Rachel is a case study in sociopathic lying.
Not only did Rachel become very “tan,” get fake hair, and create an elaborate backstory including pictures of a Black man she claimed was her father (who was NOT her father or father-figure), she also made claims that she was the target of nine hate crimes.
KXLY news in Spokane followed the trail of Rachel’s hate crime accusations. None of her accusations appear anywhere close to true. (See footnote 1 if you want to read more about the specifics.)
Faking hate crimes is not doing good for the community she was supposed to be an advocate for.
To make people of color in a community think that there are haters actively targeting them is not helpful when it isn’t true.
It is needlessly traumatizing them for your own gain.
It doesn’t help race relations. It sets them back.
Creating elaborate lies for your own gain with no care about who gets hurt is a hallmark of sociopathic lying.
Sociopathic liars lie without conscience.
That means that they can look you right in the eye and lie to you and not show the usual markers that would give them away.
It also means that they don’t care about collateral damage.
They get their mind set on a goal and they will make up whatever they need to in their attempts to achieve their goal. It doesn’t matter what the consequences are to others as a result of their lies. It doesn’t matter if other adults get hurt and it doesn’t matter if their own children get hurt.
Rachel has suspect stories beyond her racial identity.
Here’s some of Rachel’s claims that appear in an article written by a newspaper writer who was clearly taken in by Rachel (see footnote 2 for more background):
She was born in a teepee in Montana.
She hunted for food with a bow and arrow as a child.
She and her siblings were physically abused by her parents.
She moved to South Africa with her family and there her parents whipped her with a baboon whip.
She is such an accomplished painter that her work is displayed around the country and fetches as much as $10,000 for a painting.
She was date-raped by a mentor.
She divorced her ex-husband to protect her and their son from his physical abuse.
She had cancer in 2006 but is now cured.
She had to move frequently to try to get away from hate crimes which included death threats and threats of kidnapping her son.
Each of these nine stories that convinced many people has been proven to be false, many being debunked by her actual parents -- who raised her, but NOT in a teepee in Montana or South Africa. (See footnote 3 for more about the evidence exposing Rachel's lies.)
So how are Rachel’s lies exemplary of sociopathic lying?
First, I am not officially diagnosing her as a sociopath.
I am saying that her lying behavior reminds me of the lying commonly seen with sociopaths.
We can put sociopathy on a continuum from zero to serial killers. Few sociopaths hit the highest end mark, but everyone that lands from about the half-way mark on up is going to cause problems for people around them.
lie without conscience
don’t show the normal markers of lying
don’t care about collateral damage
are very practiced manipulators
make up new lies as cover stories if old lies are exposed
- be very charming
- bring up crocodile tears (fake tears they can conjure up at opportune times)
- extract people’s sympathy
- use detail in their lies to be convincing
Why do they do it?
People so often grapple with “Why?” Why do they do it? Why would anyone make up such a lie?
When they can’t see a good “why” answer, they often conclude “It makes no sense for them to lie about this, therefore it must be true.”
I’ll tell you why. It’s a simple answer really.
Sociopaths lie because they perceive some gain from the lie.
The gain to the liar may be:
- winning an argument,
- punishing someone they see as an adversary,
- getting someone out of their way,
- undermining the credibility of someone who could expose their lies,
- an ego boost,
- demeaning or humiliating others,
- an opportunity to practice their lying skills,
- enjoyment from pulling the wool over people’s eyes,
- protecting their previous lies,
- creating an illusion of who they are, or
- getting something they want.
Remember, sociopathic liars don’t have a pesky conscience to hold them back and they don’t care about collateral damage. All they care about is their self-centered gain.
Even if you only accept as a lie Rachel’s pattern of very extensive detailed lying about her race, her lying can be said to fall into the sociopathic realm.
Her lies were not innocent lies with no downside.
She hurt people by leading them to believe over and over that there were people walking among them that were boldly and blatantly threatening to their existence.
She did this for self-centered reasons and with disregard for collateral damage.
We don’t know exactly what her self-centered reasons for the racial lies are, but I can see some possibilities: prestige, power, glory, a job, sympathy, to name a few.
Education is protection
According to Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, 4% of the population is sociopathic. That is 1 in 25.
We bump up against sociopathic people in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and grocery stores. Those of us who are particularly unlucky partner with one or have one in the family.
To protect yourself and people you care about, it’s worthwhile studying these people and learning what to watch out for.
1) More about KXLY news in Spokane's investigation of Rachel’s hate crime accusations:
Rachel’s profile that appeared on the website of Eastern Washington University (EWU)--the university where she is or was a professor of Africana Studies--included the badge of honor claim that she had been the victim of eight hate crimes. (Rachel’s profile has been taken down from the university’s website and the institution seems to be distancing themselves from her.)
The news team found police records for four alleged hate crimes reported by Rachel over a span of about six months in 2009-2010. Each case was investigated by the police and each led only to dead ends. The news team found no trace of any other hate crimes that would bring her total up to the number of times she claims to have been targeted.
The most recent alleged hate crime incident (this is number 9 now) included a very lengthy hateful threatening letter she “found” in the NAACP postbox. Upon investigation, it was evident that the letter had never been posted. The stamp wasn’t cancelled. The letter didn’t have any of the markings of being processed by the post office.
If your mind goes to, “Well maybe a postal worker put it in the box.” Think about it. A postal worker would know to cancel the stamp.
2) Newspaper article
To get some more background on Rachel and her story telling there is a great resource in a February 5, 2015 article in The Eastener, the online newspaper for EWU.
This article gives us a glimpse of Rachel’s presentation of herself prior to the exposure of her biological ethnicity. It gives the reader a look at the depth and breadth of topics Rachel creates fabrications around.
In the article, entitled A Life to be Heard, staff writer Shawntelle Moncy is clearly taken in by Rachel.
3) What's the evidence about Rachel's claims?
Claims 1 & 2
Rachel’s real parents recently stated that Rachel was not born in a tepee nor did they hunt for their food with a bow and arrow.
Rachel’s claims fit nicely though with her goal to be seen as identifiable with struggling minorities.
Claims 3 & 4
According to Rachel’s parents and brother, the family lived for a time in South Africa but it was when Rachel’s adopted siblings were young and Rachel had already moved on to her adult life. She was not in South Africa with them.
Given that the physical abuse claim includes the alleged use of a baboon whip from South Africa, the entire claim is undermined.
The whole baboon whipping story fits in very conveniently with her “I’m a victimized Black woman” persona. This is made really clear by the fact that Rachel is quoted in the article as saying that the whips “were pretty similar to what was used as whips during slavery.”
Rachel also makes the claim that her parents punished her and the other children according to “skin complexion.”
Now that we know that Rachel’s childhood “skin complexion” was that of a very pale freckle faced blond white girl and that the “skin complexion” she presented to the article author was that of a Black woman we can reasonably put the abuse allegations in the same category as her color and declare both as fabrications.
Claims 5 & 6
It’s not easy selling a painting for $10,000. But it’s easy to say you do if you are a practiced liar who enjoys being put on a pedestal.
Rachel gives herself away though. She ties her status as a sought-after painter with the claim about being date raped by a mentor.
This is so typical of sociopathic lying. They love to give details with their lies.
The details probably sell most people on the story, but to me they are a tell.
The article details the story of the date rape with the background of it being connected to a celebration dinner after an installation of one of her expensive paintings. And then she kills any investigation of the story by saying that the man was so rich that she couldn’t go after him for rape. This is a very convenient way to tie up a lie.
Rachel goes for the trifecta of abuse.
She was abused by her parents. She was date raped by a man. She was physically abused by her husband. Or … so she claims. I’m not buying it.
All these stories of abuse fit in nicely with Rachel’s aspirations as a brave and empowering Black woman rising up like a phoenix from the ashes.
I feel very sorry for the guy that had the misfortune of marrying Rachel.
Putting together the work I have done about the abuse of men by women, and Rachel’s stories and evident goals, there is a good chance that Rachel married her husband so that she could have a Black child and then got rid of the husband so she could get away with presenting herself as Black.
We now know from her parents that Rachel started changing her appearance after her divorce. When she was married she was White. She couldn’t have the ex be anywhere near her new life without fear that he would give her away.
Claims of victimhood are clearly a theme for Rachel.
The victimizations are piling up. Her claim of being a victim of cancer is just as convenient and useful to Rachel as the other unsubstantiated victim stories she tells.
And you can tell from reading the article that the author is taken in by all the tragedy that Rachel has supposedly overcome. The author says “rather than becoming bitter, Dolezal chooses to empower others to lead in their communities no matter what challenges she faces. She wishes to reawaken the sense of empowerment.”
I’m sure Rachel is used to getting admiration and accolades for her bravery in spite of sooo much she has had to overcome. And that reaction has fed her drive to keep the lies going.
Here we are back at hate crime allegations again.
These serve to make her important.
- Ann Silvers