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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sociopath alert: Julie Miller

Every now and then someone cheats during a long distance race by skipping part of the course. There's only one type of person who does this, a sociopath. No one else could possibly get satisfaction from the false glory they get from supposedly winning a race they haven't won, and feels no guilt about cheating the rightful winner out of their moment of glory. 

Rosie Ruiz was the trailblazer in this field, so to speak, who faked winning the Boston Marathon back in 1980. 

Last year Kendall Schler faked winning the St. Louis Marathon

Now we have Julie Miller, who faked winning her age group at the 2015 Ironman Canada Triathlon. Since that race, several of her previous "victories" have been called into question as well. 

The NY Times had a long article about her today. Here she is: 

One of the striking things about Miller is that, like Ruiz and Schler, she simply doesn't look like a world class endurance athlete. Such women tend to have a lean, chiseled look, with muscles in the right places. Miller is somewhat pear-shaped, and there is little definition to her legs.

Ironically, Miller is a mental health counselor specializing in body-image disorders. She herself appears to have the opposite of body dysmorphia: she thinks she can pass as a world class athlete even though she can't.

The Times explained at length how it would have been impossible for Miller to have hit the various checkpoints in the race with the times required for her splits to have made any sense. Miller claimed that her timing chip had fallen off of the velcro band to which it was attached, but that was near impossible. (In an earlier cycling race she claimed to have lost the identifying number from her bicycle; she was the only one of 800 competitors to whom this happened, and the people who trained with her were all astonished at her time.)

It goes without saying that Miller is a sociopath. Unfortunately, the Times didn't give any particulars about her personal background. But it was still interesting to the other ways her sociopathy manifested itself. Her denials were classic sociopathy. As per the Times:

Miller denies it all, in the most emphatic tones. She says that she is the victim of a smear campaign by envious, spiteful athletes who cannot cope with her success and high profile and that the only thing she did wrong, besides winning too often, was to lose her timing chip in a couple of races.

“I did not cheat in the Whistler Ironman competition,” she said in an email, “nor would I ever cheat or have I ever cheated in any competition...”

Key here is "in the most emphatic tones." This is exactly how sociopaths lie -- with great conviction. With Miller, it wasn't enough to merely deny having cheated in the 2015 race; she insisted she has never cheated, nor would she ever. (Think of OJ Simpson saying, "Absolutely, 100% not guilty." Think of Bill Clinton wagging an angry, admonishing finger at the press and saying, emphatically, "I did not have sex with that woman.")  

While she kept a low profile in Squamish this past fall and winter, Miller vociferously maintained her innocence to some friends and neighbors. For a time she was active on social media, criticizing people who she said were targeting her unfairly. She positioned herself as a victim of cyberbullying, at one point blaming “mean girls” for the accusations.

Sociopaths tend to position themselves as victims, even when victimizers. And note, once again, the "vociferously." This is how sociopaths fool people: by appearing as angry as someone who has actually been falsely accused.

“After achieving a goal I had set for myself years ago, for reasons I will never know, a hateful and false rumor was started by another woman that dampened my celebration,” Miller said on Facebook. “Ultimately, I and others close to me know my integrity, and that is what matters to me.”

Sociopaths often describe others (or their actions) as they themselves are: "hateful and false."

In several email exchanges, on the telephone, and in a brief conversation at the front door of her house in Squamish, Miller declined to be interviewed for this article, saying that she would derive no benefit from trying to explain how she completed the races in the times she claimed. Her critics would find a way to rebut her story no matter what, she said. At one point she promised to provide evidence that she had completed one of the suspect races, but she never followed through with the complete information.

In every exchange, she portrayed herself as an innocent victim who had just wanted to train and compete.

“I do know for certain in my heart — and people who know me know this, too — that I would never, ever knowingly do anything to disrespect or disparage my fellow competitors, the race organizers and volunteers, myself, my friends or — most importantly to me — my children, husband and family,” she said in a written statement she provided for publication. “We are moving on with our lives, I continue to train and compete and I wish everyone the joy that family and sport bring to me.”

This is pretty much standard boilerplate, but all of the cliches ring particularly hollow in light of the fact that we know she cheated. How can Miller wish everyone the joy that her sport brought to her when she robbed the winners in her age group of their rightful victories?

Miller's type of subterfuge is, in a way, quite similar to Munchausen's Syndrome: the sociopaths want attention and admiration or sympathy so badly that they will lie in order to get it. But you have to be utterly shameless to obtain any of those things by living a lie this way, and those are two of the defining traits of sociopathy: dishonesty and shamelessness.

Nonsociopaths will sometimes employ dishonesty if there's a tangible reward in return, as on Wall Street, though a sociopath is more likely to do so. But only sociopaths will consistently lie in order to gain sympathy, as with people with  Munchausen's Syndrome, or to gain admiration, as with Miller.


Runner Katy said...

Wow, I hadn't read about Julie Miller! Thank you for another delightful Sociopath alert and one that especially resonates with me. It's always amazing to read of athletes cheating in a sport that is normally filled with some of the most humble and honest people you can find. I hope more people will expose this woman enough that she would be too ashamed or embarrassed to continue cheating, but then again, sociopaths have no shame.

John Craig said...

Runner Katy --
Thank you, I was actually thinking of you when I wrote this post, thought you might have heard of her, but I guess the triathlon and running worlds are somewhat separate.

She got a large front-page-of-the-sports section article in the NY Times, she's been plenty exposed, and everybody in the triathloning world will have heard of her now. I doubt she'll be able to continue to compete, and if she does, people will be keeping an extremely close eye on her, so her career as a cheater is over.

Steven said...

She knows she can't run again because she'll come about 2000th so she better enjoy her righteous indignation til the next event.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking to do a historical sociopath alert, check out Aaron Burr's bio. I was curious about him because of publicity for the Hamilton musical, and started reading on Wiki. I was thinking, surely this guy must be a sociopath. And then sure enough his parents died soon after his birth. There's always that root cause.

John Craig said...

Anon --
I hadn't known all that much about him, but did just read the Wiki bio, and you're right, there are several clues there. And you're also right, his parents dying right after he was born undoubtedly had a lot to do with it. Not sure I'm going to write a sociopath alert about him, but it is a good suggestion, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I'm just thrilled that Julie Miller was caught cheating. She can deny the truth all that she wants, but now people know what she is, a liar and a cheat.


Anonymous said...

many years ago, when I first got out of high school, I worked in a small expensive private mental hospital for a year...I mention this to give substance to my utterance of the generally-recognized slam that "people in the mental health helping professions are particularly screwed-up" for her to be "a mental health counselor specializing in body-image disorders" LOOKS TO ME a priori as suspicious as a new girlfriend would be with five ex-husbands...those people are bent witches dressed-up as witch-finders more often than not, in my humble opinion...

John Craig said...

Anon --
I love your comment. "The generally recognized slam….as suspicious as a new girlfriend would be with five ex-husbands….witches dressed up as witch-finders." Very very well put.

And, btw, I agree with you. (As well as plan to steal a couple of those phrases in the future.)

Anonymous said...

Here's one on the sociopathy topic you might appreciate. It talks about the evolution and use of dares by children to spot psychopaths in their midst. I'm somewhat of a sociopath connoisseur like you, but had never come across this content until today.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you, that was very interesting. I'd never really thought much about dares before, but what Perry says makes perfect sense. Sociopaths are FAR more likely to issue them, since they're a way of manipulating, terrorizing, controlling, and maybe even harming others. When they're the darees, as Perry puts it, they're more likely to just go through with it with an inhuman stoicism which they pass off as courage.

If you're a sociopath connoisseur, and you write a comment occasionally, may I suggest you use a name, just so I know whom I'm talking to? It doesn't have to be your name, obviously, just any convenient handle so I know who it is and get a little sense of who you are. For instance, I'm not sure if you're the same Anonymous who wrote the previous comment on this post (April 13th at 1:35PM).

Justin said...


I'm the anon you were responding to above. Yes, I will post with my name from now on, I see the benefit.

I'm the same guy who had a sociopath and narcissist for parents. Let me know if you'd like to bounce ideas around via email about sociopathy. There's huge amounts of discussion online about NPD, but not sociopaths for some reason. Could be nice to have a conversation partner.

John Craig said...

Justin --
Aha, okay, thank you.

I like putting all my thoughts about sociopathy down on the blog, and don't need more email partners, but if you have any questions or anything you want to say privately, I'd be happy to respond privately. Just send your email address via a comment and I won't post your comment but will write back. (Just say, "This is Justin, don't publish this comment.")

Anonymous said...

John, I disagree. I do not know this person or anything more about the situation than what I read above.

Lying with emphasis is something children and crooks do all the time and not an definitive indicator of sociopathy . Parking illegally and avoiding fines is dishonest but not an indicator of sociopathy. Fallacious.
Bill Clinton denying his relationship is not sociopathic either, probably a feeble attempt at protecting ego and position.

It's like ADHD diagnosis for kids, autism spectrum etc and it's a dangerous trait that blurs the line between acceptable and truly unacceptable behavior - and institutes a dangerous form of normative and sociological control of individual's behaviour (in this case, a dishonnest behavior of stealing a victory by unfair means which should not be equated to the damage done by truly sociopathic individuals to others - usually through physical and continuous psychological abuse and deception.).

It seems that the article describes symptoms of narcissistic PD more than psychopathy/sociopathy.

As with all Personality Disorders, We all display sociopathic traits of various amounts at various times.

By trying to enlarge labeling of "sociopath" to a larger set of people who display sociopathic tendencies or traits at times, it diminishes the value of the term to label truly dangerous individuals to society. Race cheaters are not sociopaths. Most serial killers are sociopaths.

John Craig said...

Alex --
First, I didn't say that lying emphatically is itself proof of sociopathy. I said that that is what sociopaths do. And yes, kids do it, but that's one reason why the DSM and other sources say that you shouldn't make a diagnosis of sociopathy before age 16 (though the signs of it are often there early on).

It's the entire pattern of behavior that gives away sociopathy, and one of the surer indicators in adults is lying about something you don't have to lie about (in order to get out of trouble), i.e., lying to burnish your own glory. And this wasn't the only time Miller had lied about a race.

"Most" serial killers are sociopaths??! Where did you get that? ALL serial killers are sociopaths, period, it's the surest sign of sociopathy there is. There are mass murderers who are not sociopaths, but serial killing takes a degree of cunning and also such a complete disregard for others that only a sociopath could do it. Keep in mind, sociopaths are generally considered to be roughly 3% of the population, and serial killers, who are the most dramatically destructive of sociopaths, represent only a small percentage of them.

And if race cheaters are not sociopaths, you must be absolving Kendall Schler and Rosie Ruiz from that diagnosis as well. Have you ever looked at Ruiz's life history?

You're throwing around some of the jargon without really having a feel for sociopaths, which says to me you've learned about sociopathy almost entirely from a book.

Amy said...

Good post. I'm grateful sociopathy is finally being exposed. I have first hand experience with a socio as I found myself in a relationship with one several years ago but didn't realize it until I was well into it. I started to suspect something was up and did some research. As you know, they don't like it when you catch on. I like to think I'm better equipped to spot a socio in the future and know to run like hell.

John Craig said...

Amy --
Thank you. Yes, you're definitely better equipped to deal with them, as you understand that the only reasonable response is to run like hell.

Anonymous said...

John, I have been researching sociopaths for some time now and your blog is precisely what I was searching for. Thank you for posting and blogging on such a vital topic, one that many are unaware of.May I email you a few questions regarding behavior patterns of female sociopaths?

Many thanks,

Anonymous said...

Also, can you recommend a good book or case of the everyday female sociopath to look into?

John Craig said...

Anon --
Sure, send a comment with your email address and I won't publish it (and I'll write you back). And no, I don't know of any books that are specifically about female sociopaths. One of the best books on the subject of sociopathy overall is "The Antisocial Personalities," by David Lykken.

Anonymous said...

Are there any good strategies that can be used to show other people when you know that someone is a sociopath? They tend to have certain people completely wrapped and those people are the most dangerous, since they have good intentions and believe they are engaging the favor of a good person by doing the sociopaths dirty work.Are there any methodologies that work so that you can help these
people protect themselves? also do the parents or siblings of sociopaths ever suspect the true nature of the sociopath? what happens to them eventually? do they get discovered ? do they lose their charms with old age, especially in the case of female sociopaths?

John Craig said...

Anon --
A lot of good questions. Yes, sociopaths always have a certain number of people fooled, the people they can manipulate most easily. My experience is, those people have to pretty much learn for themselves that the sociopath is a sociopath. If you tell them that the sociopath is a sociopath, or tell them of the sociopath's behavior, they'll often just go straight to the sociopath and report what you've said, which means the sociopath will be out to get you even more, which is dangerous, since a sociopath will stoop to anything/is completely uninhibited about getting revenge. And even if you explain painstakingly your own personal history with the sociopath and how you were betrayed and lied to, the sociopath's acolytes are far more likely to believe the sociopath's (dishonest) version of events, since they are in thrall to that sociopath.

My default advice is always, just put as much distance as you can between yourself and the sociopath.

Yes, the parents and siblings will have a strong feel for the nature of a sociopath, even if they're unfamiliar with the concept of sociopathy and the psychological lingo. But that understanding is complicated by the fact that they're often touched by the same brush, i.e. are sociopathic or at least extremely narcissistic themselves. Sociopathy occurs when a very young child doesn't form a close bond with a parent. That can happen either because the child is an orphan, or because neither parent is loving. And who would be more unloving to their child than sociopath? So it tends to run in families.

A sociopath's life is a constant cycle of fooling people and then getting discovered. All females lose their looks as they get older, but I suspect those aren't the only "charms" you're referring to. But with females, especially sociopathic females who will sometimes do anything to enhance their attractiveness (dieting, plastic surgery, skillful application of makeup, whatever it takes), their personality is sort of interwoven with their physical attractiveness.

One thing I've found will stop a sociopath temporarily is to ask them, point blank, are you a sociopath? They will of course deny it, but after that they'll generally behave for a brief period in an effort to "prove" that they're not. (That's if they're old enough to know what the label means.) But, as I said, that good behavior will be only temporary, at best (and it may not occur at all), so really, the only way to deal with them is to get away from them.

Anonymous said...

Those were very useful answers thank you. I'm observing sociopaths, particularly female ones for a distance. They blend in more easily than male sociopaths because they get a "by" due to society's tendency to view females as nurturing. What I am most curious is, do they ever get caught, particularly in small towns? and do their spouses ever figure out their true nature? also, they bore easily so is staying faithful extremely rare for female sociopaths?

Do they have a tendency to believe their own lies?

Also, is the one thing they fear a person who is strong and will expose them? a person that they can't control because they cannot influence the other person's life? And although they are cunning, is it possible that some of them are in fact rather stupid which is seen when they try to create web of lies to deny an act?

also, if one was able to inform others in their lair of the characteristics of a sociopath, do you think people around them would be more on the lookout for those traits?

I often wonder if their exes, particularly those who are consistently known as good, upstanding people can expose them? once they are out of the hurtful grasp of the sociopath?

would a sociopath just move towns if exposed? and if they couldnt move, what would they do if they suspected others were skeptical of them?

John Craig said...

Anon --
Yikes, you ask a lot of questions. Okay, in order:

You're right, female sociopaths are more likely to get a pass than male sociopaths are, particularly because people often associate sociopathy with violence and crime, and female sociopaths are unlikely to be violent criminals. Sure, people figure them out, if that's what you mean by "getting caught." And I would think most of their spouses, at least the smarter ones, would eventually figure out what they're like, even if they're not familiar with the concept of sociopathy; I suppose there are some who simply remain in thrall to them, though, instinctively realizing that they shouldn't cross them, and buy into their reality distortion fields.

Yes, I think that given that sociopaths get bored more easily, they're more likely to stray. But there are female sociopaths who are not all that attractive and so don't attract suitors, and I knew one of these who instead turned her energies into being extremely judgmental about those who do cheat. So sociopathy can express itself in all sorts of ways.

I think as a rule they don't believe their own lies, but in situations where the facts are spinnable, they do so, and tend to see themselves as victims, even when they're not. Plus, since they're by definition narcissistic personalities, they tend to see themselves as much better than they are at all sorts of things.

They do fear people who will expose them. But at the same time, remember that there is no person whose life they cannot influence. There are a myriad of ways to undermine others, and one of a sociopath's favorite activities is telling Person A what Person B has said about them behind their back. And if Person B has never said anything bad about Person A, that matters not to the sociopath: he'll just make something up. And there are plenty of other forms of sabotage, especially for someone who will stop to anything.

Yes, educating the people around a sociopath about sociopathy will definitely sharpen their antennae; and the more perceptive ones will make the connection.

Yes, exes can expose a sociopath, but most people take an ex's battle stories as a biased, one-sided version of events, even when those stories are true. For instance, I've heard from a lot of ex-wives on this blog, and almost all of them describe their exes as sociopaths, or at the very least ask me if I think they are (after they've described some of their behaviors). Now, I'm sure that some of the ex-husbands are sociopaths; but not all of the ones who are accused of that. What is your reaction when you meet someone who complains bitterly about their ex-spouse? Don't you take what they say with again of salt? This is unfortunate for those who actually WERE married to sociopaths. But that's the way it generally works.

If completely, unequivocally exposed for the liar and swindler and rapscallion that he/she is, yes, a sociopath will likely just move and begin their machinations anew.