Portrait of a Sociopath: Part 1. What Is Triangulation?

Between 2009 and 2012 The British Institute, a formerly well-regarded language school in Indonesia, was taken over by a small group of people who had aided each other in embezzlement, rigging appointments in favour of their cronies and sex partners, and running visa scams where they employed completely unqualified foreigners as “English teachers” by putting them on “business consultant visas”. Anyone who resisted them was subjected to a smear campaign which accused them of being insane and/ or incompetent. At times vicious sexist and homophobic abuse was poured on former staff and death threats were made on more than one occasion. A favoured death threat was that they would “smash your head in with a brick.” At the core of this horrible situation was a nasty Australian con-man called Luke Preece. The archetypal fraudster, he had told people he had a degree in Geology, but in fact he was a surfie drop-out who had been using a Photoshopped degree to stay in Indonesia. In a five-part series, we will examine the techniques used by this sociopath to gain control over the business. Hopefully, this will help others to spot sociopaths in their own organization and take preventative measures. The first technique we want to look at is triangulation.

What Is Triangulation?

In a sociopathic (or narcissistic) triangle, there are three main people. The first is the sociopath, a sadistic predator who feels euphoria when he /she makes other people suffer. One in every fifty men are thought to be sociopaths (the figure is about one in a hundred for women) and they have little or no ability to feel empathy for other people at all. The sociopath particularly enjoys making ordinary people become their pawns and they are usually masters (or mistresses) of manipulation. The sociopath is always the manipulator and aggressor in the triangle, but they pretend to “the victim”.

The second element in the triangle is the true victim. The victim is usually someone of moral integrity and good conscience. The sociopath has been unable to corrupt them, which causes the sociopath to suffer an injury to their ego. Once the sociopath realizes they cannot make this person into their tool / instrument / stooge, they feel incredible hatred for them. After all, in the frightening mind of the sociopathic predator, life is a game in which every situation is a win-lose, zero-sum game. By refusing to join in the scams, slandering, cons and lies which are the bread and butter of the sociopath, the person of conscience causes the sociopath to feel humiliated and rejected. At this point the sociopath decides to get “pay back” and the person who rejected their corrupt advances becomes viewed as a target.

The third element in the triangle is “third parties”- friends, colleagues and family members. The sociopath starts trying to pit their victim against these third parties. The sociopath plays the victim and tries to convince these third parties that he/ she is being persecuted, undermined and humiliated by the victim. The sociopath lies to and manipulates these third parties, fabricating fantastic stories about their “persecution” at the hands of their target (who is the real victim).

This process of victimization and torment by playing the victim is at the heart of sociopathy. The process of manipulating third parties to attack the victim on behalf of the sociopath is called “triangulation”. Oddly, this bizarre behaviour is as common for sociopaths as making friends or falling in love is for normal people. It is just how sociopaths roll. A psychologist describes the process this way:

If all else fails, the sociopathic abuser recruits friends, colleagues, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbors, any third party – to do her bidding. She uses them to condemn, coerce, threaten, stalk, tempt, convince, harass, humiliate and otherwise manipulate her target. She controls these unaware instruments exactly as she plans to control her ultimate victim. She employs the same mechanisms and devices, and she always dumps her props unceremoniously when the job is done.

So it was at TBI Kuningan in 2011. Luke Preece, the Aussie sociopath, ordered the SM (school manager)- his intended target- not to authorize any laundry expenses or transport payments. He then encouraged teachers at this school to make applications for laundry expenses and transport expenses. When the SM refused these payments, the sociopath then went to teachers and told them that the SM was an “anti-teacher Nazi” who had gone power-mad. He told the teachers he supported the payments but that swore that the SM was refusing them “out of spite”. In short, he started demonizing the SM by pathological lying and manipulation. Further, the sociopath encouraged teachers who broke their contracts to claim end-of-contract bonuses, and make complaints about the SM when he refused. He also encouraged teachers to make complaints about their schedules, hours and even having to teach businesspeople(??? wtf) while telling the SM that teachers had to honour their contracts in all respects. He pitted junior managers against their teachers and then blamed the manager for the very situations he himself had engineered.

The old word for sociopaths was “moral imbeciles” and the old term for “sociopathy” was “moral insanity”. The way they behave is absolutely insane, but it is increasingly seen as socially acceptable to be greedy and ruthless these days. However a manager who deliberately engineers conflict among staff is still a massive liability. Clearly, all this game-playing means the sociopath does not have his eye on the ball (which should be making businesses grow). Instead, they are focused on causing misery for others (when they aren’t stealing money). Perhaps not surprisingly, sociopaths are very common in senior management, Wall Street and politics. This is one of the reasons corruption, bankruptcies and corporate failures are so common. People have yet to find a way to safeguard business and politics against these dangerous predators.

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