Limerence/Obsessive Love Disorder – When Your Hormones & Neurotransmitters Rule

For Scam Victims, it was NOT LOVE – it was Limerence. But watch out that it does not turn into Obsession!

Primary Category: Recovery Psychology

•  Vianey Gonzalez B.Sc(Psych) – Psychologist, Certified Deception Professional, Psychology Advisory Panel & Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

About This Article

Limerence, an intense and involuntary emotional state of romantic infatuation, can be manipulated by scammers to control their victims. This emotional hijacking involves the release of key neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which creates feelings of pleasure, arousal, and obsessive thoughts about the scammer.

Characteristics of limerence include intrusive thoughts, emotional dependency, idealization, fear of rejection, and physiological responses like increased heart rate and sweating.

Betrayal trauma, often experienced by scam victims, can intensify these feelings, transforming limerence into Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD), a more severe condition marked by persistent obsession, controlling behaviors, and significant emotional distress. Addressing betrayal trauma through therapeutic interventions is crucial to prevent this progression and promote healthier emotional regulation and relationship patterns.

Understanding these dynamics is essential for recognizing and managing the psychological impact of romance & relationship scams in all their forms.

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SCARS GREEN BOOK - The SCARS Self-Help Self-Paced Scam Victim Recovery Program Guide
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Limerence/Obsessive Love Disorder - When Your Hormones & Neurotransmitters Rule - 2024

Limerence is when the Hormones & Neurotransmitters have Control over Scam Victims’ Minds – Was it Love? No, it was Limerence!

Limerence is a term in psychology and neuroscience that describes an intense, involuntary (beyond your control,) and often obsessive emotional state of romantic infatuation with another person. Was it love that a scam victim felt for the fake persona or scammer? No, it was limerence caused by the emotional hijacking that scammers use to control their victims.

Coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in her 1979 book “Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love,” limerence is characterized by strong desires for reciprocation of feelings, intrusive thoughts about the object of affection, and significant mood swings based on the perceived responses or behaviors of the person of interest.

Characteristics of Limerence

Limerence is marked by a set of distinct and intense emotional and cognitive characteristics.

One of the primary features is the presence of intrusive thoughts about the object of affection, often referred to as the limerent object (LO). These thoughts are persistent, involuntary, and can dominate the limerent person’s mind, leading to frequent fantasizing about a romantic relationship with the LO (Limerent Object – Person). This mental preoccupation is not easily controlled and can disrupt daily activities and concentration on other tasks.

  • Intrusive Thoughts: Persistent and involuntary thoughts about the person, often accompanied by fantasizing about a romantic relationship with them.
  • Emotional Dependency: Intense emotional dependence on the person’s reciprocation of feelings, where the limerent individual’s happiness largely depends on how the person reacts or behaves.
  • Idealization: The limerent object (LO) (Person) is often idealized, with the limerent person focusing on their positive traits and overlooking or minimizing their flaws.
  • Fear of Rejection: A profound fear of rejection or indifference from the LO (Limerent Object – Person), leading to anxiety and stress.
  • Physiological Responses: Physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and nervousness when thinking about or encountering the LO (Limerent Object – Person).

Emotional dependency is another hallmark of limerence. The limerent individual’s emotional well-being becomes closely tied to the perceived reactions and behaviors of the LO (Limerent Object – Person). They experience significant mood swings based on whether they perceive positive or negative signals from the LO (Limerent Object – Person). When they receive attention or positive reinforcement, it leads to intense feelings of joy and elation. Conversely, any perceived rejection or indifference can cause profound feelings of despair and anxiety.

Idealization of the LO (Limerent Object – Person) is common in limerence. The limerent person tends to focus intensely on the LO (Limerent Object – Person)’s positive traits, often exaggerating them and overlooking or minimizing their flaws. This idealization reinforces the emotional attachment and the desire for reciprocation. The limerent individual often constructs an idealized image of the LO (Limerent Object – Person), which can be quite different from their actual personality or behavior.

The fear of rejection is a significant aspect of limerence. This fear can lead to heightened anxiety and stress, as the limerent person is acutely sensitive to any signs that the LO (Limerent Object – Person) may not reciprocate their feelings. The prospect of rejection or indifference can feel devastating, leading to emotional turmoil and obsessive behavior aimed at gaining the LO (Limerent Object – Person)’s attention and approval.

Physiological responses are also a part of the limerence experience. Encountering or even thinking about the LO (Limerent Object – Person) can trigger physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and nervousness. These physiological reactions are similar to those experienced during states of high arousal and stress, indicating the profound impact of limerence on the body.

Overall, the characteristics of limerence include a complex interplay of intrusive thoughts, emotional dependency, idealization, fear of rejection, and physiological arousal. These elements combine to create a powerful and often overwhelming experience of romantic infatuation, deeply affecting the limerent individual’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Understanding these characteristics is crucial for recognizing limerence and its impact on an individual’s mental and emotional health.

Neuroscience of Limerence

Brain Chemistry: Limerence involves changes in brain chemistry similar to those seen in addiction. Key neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin play crucial roles.

    • Dopamine: Often referred to as the “pleasure chemical,” dopamine levels surge during limerence, leading to feelings of euphoria and reward when thinking about or interacting with the LO (Limerent Object – Person).
    • Norepinephrine: This neurotransmitter is associated with arousal and alertness, contributing to the heightened energy and focus on the LO (Limerent Object – Person).
    • Serotonin: Levels of serotonin may decrease, similar to patterns seen in obsessive-compulsive disorder, which could explain the obsessive thoughts and behaviors associated with limerence.

Brain Regions: Several brain regions are implicated in the experience of limerence.

    • Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA): This area is involved in the release of dopamine and is activated during the experience of romantic love and limerence.
    • Caudate Nucleus: Associated with reward and motivation, this brain region shows increased activity in people experiencing romantic love.
    • Prefrontal Cortex: Involved in decision-making and impulse control, the prefrontal cortex can be less active, which might explain the irrational behaviors often seen in limerent individuals.

Limerence and the Amygdala

The relationship between the amygdala and limerence is rooted in the role of the amygdala in processing emotions, particularly those related to fear, pleasure, and reward. The amygdala is a critical part of the brain’s limbic system, which is involved in emotional regulation and the formation of emotional memories.

In the context of limerence, the amygdala plays a significant role in several ways:

Emotional Intensity and Reactivity: The amygdala is key to generating and regulating emotional responses. During limerence, the amygdala is likely highly active, contributing to the intense emotions experienced by the limerent individual. This includes the heightened euphoria when interacting with or thinking about the limerent object (LO), as well as the profound anxiety and fear of rejection.

Intrusive Thoughts and Obsession: The amygdala is involved in the encoding and retrieval of emotional memories. In limerence, the emotional significance of the LO is enhanced, leading to the persistence of intrusive thoughts and fantasies about the LO. The amygdala’s role in emotional memory means that these thoughts and fantasies are imbued with strong emotional content, making them difficult to control or ignore.

Reward and Pleasure: The amygdala works closely with the brain’s reward system, particularly the nucleus accumbens and the ventral tegmental area (VTA), which are involved in the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, reward, and motivation. In limerence, the anticipation of positive interactions with the LO can lead to increased dopamine release, reinforcing the obsession and emotional dependency. This creates a feedback loop where the desire for the LO’s attention and affection is continuously amplified.

Fear and Anxiety: The amygdala is also crucial in processing fear and anxiety. The fear of rejection, a common characteristic of limerence, activates the amygdala, leading to heightened anxiety and stress responses. This can result in physiological symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and nervousness, which are typical in states of high emotional arousal.

Emotional Dependency: The amygdala’s role in emotional regulation and attachment can explain the limerent individual’s emotional dependency on the LO. The amygdala helps form emotional bonds and attachments, making the limerent person’s mood and emotional well-being highly dependent on the LO’s perceived reactions and behaviors.

The amygdala’s involvement in processing intense emotions, regulating fear and anxiety, and interacting with the brain’s reward system underlies many of the key characteristics of limerence. Its role in emotional memory and attachment helps explain why limerent individuals experience such strong, persistent, and often overwhelming feelings towards their limerent object. Understanding this relationship provides insight into the neurobiological foundations of limerence and its profound impact on an individual’s emotional and psychological state.

The Brain’s Reward System and Limerence

The relationship between the brain’s reward systems, particularly the striatum, and limerence is central to understanding the intense feelings of pleasure, motivation, and obsession that characterize this state. The striatum, which includes structures such as the nucleus accumbens and the caudate nucleus, is deeply involved in the brain’s reward circuitry and plays a significant role in the experience of limerence.

Here’s a detailed explanation of how the striatum influences limerence:

Dopamine and Reward Sensitivity: The striatum is a key component of the dopaminergic reward system. When a person experiences limerence, interactions with or thoughts about the limerent object (LO) lead to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This dopamine surge creates intense feelings of joy and euphoria, reinforcing the desire to seek out and think about the LO. The anticipation of positive interactions or responses from the LO triggers further dopamine release, creating a cycle of reward-seeking behavior.

Motivation and Goal-Directed Behavior: The striatum is involved in motivating goal-directed behavior. In the context of limerence, this translates to a heightened focus on the LO and a strong drive to engage in behaviors that will garner their attention and affection. This can manifest as constant attempts to communicate with the LO, planning encounters, or engaging in activities that are perceived to increase the likelihood of reciprocal interest.

Obsession and Intrusive Thoughts: The striatum’s role in habit formation and reinforcement contributes to the obsessive nature of limerence. The repeated release of dopamine in response to thoughts or interactions with the LO strengthens neural pathways associated with these thoughts, making them more persistent and intrusive. This neural reinforcement can make it difficult for the limerent individual to divert their attention away from the LO, perpetuating a cycle of obsession.

Emotional Dependency: The striatum, in conjunction with other limbic structures, plays a role in the formation of emotional bonds and attachments. The rewarding feelings elicited by interactions with the LO can lead to emotional dependency, where the limerent individual’s mood and emotional state become closely tied to their perceptions of the LO’s reactions and availability. This dependency can make the individual feel elated when they perceive positive signals from the LO and devastated by any signs of disinterest or rejection.

Comparisons to Addiction: The involvement of the striatum in limerence has been likened to its role in addiction. Both states involve a compulsive pursuit of rewarding stimuli, driven by the same dopaminergic pathways. In limerence, the LO becomes the primary source of reward, similar to how substances or addictive behaviors function in addiction. The neural mechanisms that reinforce drug-seeking behavior in addiction similarly reinforce the obsessive pursuit of the LO in limerence.

Positive Reinforcement and Feedback Loop: Positive interactions or perceived signals of interest from the LO result in dopamine release, providing strong positive reinforcement. This reinforcement strengthens the association between the LO and the rewarding feelings, perpetuating a feedback loop where the limerent individual continuously seeks out the LO for more dopamine-driven rewards.

The striatum’s role in the brain’s reward system is crucial for understanding the mechanisms of limerence. Its involvement in dopamine release, motivation, goal-directed behavior, and habit formation explains the intense pleasure, obsession, and emotional dependency experienced by individuals in a limerent state. By engaging the same neural pathways associated with addiction, the striatum helps to perpetuate the powerful and often overwhelming nature of limerence.

Scam Victims and Limerence – They Did Not Fall In Love!

Many scam victims believe they have genuinely fallen in love with romance scammers or their fake personas/profiles, but in reality, what they typically experience is limerence—a state of intense emotional infatuation and obsession driven by psychological and neurobiological mechanisms. This misinterpretation can lead to devastating psychological consequences.

The Illusion of Love and the Reality of Limerence

Romance scammers skillfully manipulate their victims’ emotions, creating an illusion of deep, genuine affection. They often use carefully crafted messages, attentive communication, and feigned empathy to construct a sense of intimacy and trust. Victims, feeling an intense emotional connection, often mistake these manipulations for true love. However, the symptoms and experiences of these victims align more closely with limerence than with authentic, reciprocated love.

Emotional Rollercoaster and Obsessive Thoughts

Limerence is typically characterized by an emotional rollercoaster where the victim experiences extreme highs and lows based on the scammer’s interactions, often based on the cycles of the scammer’s love bombing and amygdala hijacks. The scammer’s messages, which may alternate between affection and calculated absence, trigger dopamine releases in the brain, creating intense feelings of pleasure and anticipation. This dopamine-driven reward system (dopamine signaling) reinforces the victim’s obsession with the scammer, making it difficult for them to think about anything else. The striatum, a key part of the brain’s reward system, plays a significant role in this process by reinforcing the neural pathways associated with thoughts of the scammer, leading to intrusive and persistent thoughts.

Dependency and Emotional Vulnerability

Scammers exploit the emotional dependency created by limerence. Victims often become emotionally dependent on the scammer, with their mood and self-worth tied to the scammer’s perceived interest and approval. This dependency makes them highly vulnerable to manipulation that also increases limerence, as they are willing to go to great lengths to maintain the scammer’s affection, often resulting in significant financial and emotional losses.

Manipulation and Control

Scammers leverage the characteristics of limerence to exert control over their victims. By providing intermittent reinforcement—responding positively at times and withdrawing at others—they keep the victim in a constant state of longing and uncertainty. This tactic enhances the victim’s emotional investment and desperation to regain the scammer’s affection, a behavior driven by the brain’s need to seek out the next dopamine reward.

The Wake-Up Call

For many victims, the realization that they have been scammed is a profound shock – psychological betrayal trauma. They must grapple not only with the financial and emotional betrayal but also with the understanding that they perceived they were in love when in actuality it was actually a manifestation of limerence. This realization can be deeply disorienting, as it challenges the victim’s understanding of their own emotions and judgments.

Psychological and Social Implications

Limerence can have significant psychological and social implications. While it can be a euphoric and motivating experience, it can also lead to emotional distress, impaired judgment, and difficulties in everyday functioning if the feelings are not reciprocated or if they interfere with other aspects of life. Understanding limerence can help individuals and mental health professionals recognize and manage these intense feelings, providing pathways to healthier relationships and emotional well-being.

Make sure that you talk to your psychologist about this.

Limerence vs. Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD)

Limerence and Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD) are both intense emotional experiences related to romantic infatuation, but they differ significantly in their characteristics, underlying causes, and impacts on individuals’ behavior and mental health.


Definition: Limerence is an involuntary emotional state of romantic infatuation. It involves obsessive thoughts, idealization of the love interest, and a strong desire for reciprocation.

Duration: Limerence typically lasts for a limited period, often months to a few years. It can fade naturally over time, especially if reciprocation is not achieved.

Focus: The primary focus in limerence is on achieving emotional reciprocation and creating a romantic connection. It is characterized by fluctuating emotional highs and lows based on interactions with the object of affection.

Behavior: Individuals in a state of limerence may engage in idealization, fantasizing, and obsessive thinking, but their behavior does not necessarily become disruptive or harmful.

Outcome: Limerence can lead to either a mutual relationship or disillusionment (such as betrayal trauma in scam victims) if the feelings are not reciprocated. It often resolves naturally once the infatuation fades or the person moves on.

Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD)

Definition: Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD) is a mental health condition characterized by an overwhelming and persistent obsession with a person, leading to compulsive behaviors and often harmful consequences. It is considered more severe and pathological than limerence.

Duration: OLD can persist for extended periods, often becoming a chronic issue without intervention. The obsession does not easily fade and can last indefinitely.

Focus: The primary focus in OLD is on controlling and possessing the love object. The obsession often centers around maintaining proximity and influence over the person, regardless of their reciprocation or consent.

Behavior: Individuals with OLD may exhibit stalking, harassment, excessive communication, and intrusive behaviors. These actions can become disruptive, harmful, and potentially dangerous to both the person with OLD and the object of their obsession.

Outcome: OLD can lead to severe interpersonal conflicts, legal issues, and significant psychological distress. Professional intervention, including therapy and sometimes medication, is often required to manage and treat OLD.

Understanding Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD)

Obsessive Love Disorder is a condition where a person becomes excessively fixated on someone they believe they are in love with. This obsession can dominate their thoughts, feelings, and actions, leading to behaviors that are controlling and invasive. Here are key aspects of OLD:

Symptoms: Persistent and intrusive thoughts about the person, a need to constantly check on them or know their whereabouts, jealousy, possessiveness, and an inability to accept rejection or boundaries.

Causes: OLD can stem from various underlying issues, including attachment disorders, past trauma, low self-esteem, personality disorders, and certain mental health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Impact: OLD can severely impact a person’s daily life, affecting their relationships, work, and overall mental health. The obsession can lead to behaviors that are socially unacceptable or legally problematic, such as stalking or harassment.

Treatment: Treatment for OLD typically involves psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), to address the underlying thoughts and behaviors. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage associated symptoms like anxiety or depression.

While both limerence and Obsessive Love Disorder involve intense romantic feelings and obsessive thoughts, they differ in severity, duration, and impact. Limerence is a common and often transient emotional state characterized by idealization and a desire for reciprocation, whereas OLD is a more severe mental health disorder involving persistent obsession and potentially harmful behaviors. Understanding these differences is crucial for recognizing the signs and seeking appropriate help, particularly in cases where the obsession becomes disruptive or dangerous.

Limerence Can Turn Into Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD)

Limerence and Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD) are distinct emotional and psychological states, but there is potential for limerence to evolve into OLD in certain circumstances. Understanding the progression from limerence to OLD involves recognizing how an intense but typically transient infatuation can become a chronic and pathological obsession. Trauma can play a role in this transformation.

From Limerence to Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD)

Unresolved Limerence: When limerence does not resolve naturally, it can intensify and become more ingrained. Persistent unrequited feelings and a lack of closure can exacerbate obsessive thoughts.

Personality and Psychological Factors: Individuals with certain personality traits or mental health conditions, such as borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or attachment disorders, are more prone to developing OLD. These conditions can intensify and prolong the obsessive focus on the love interest.

Trauma and Insecurity: Past traumas, attachment issues, and deep-seated insecurities can cause a person to cling to the object of their limerence. The need for validation and fear of abandonment can transform limerence into a more obsessive and controlling form of attachment.

Behavioral Reinforcement: Engaging in behaviors that feed the obsession, such as constant monitoring of the love interest, intrusive contact, or fantasizing, can reinforce and deepen the obsession, potentially leading to OLD.

While not all cases of limerence will transform into Obsessive Love Disorder, the potential exists, especially in individuals with predisposing psychological factors, unresolved emotional issues, and reinforcement of obsessive behaviors. Early recognition of the signs of persistent and intensifying obsession is crucial. Addressing these issues through therapy and support can help prevent the transition from a normal, albeit intense, infatuation (limerence) to a pathological obsession (OLD). Understanding this progression can aid in early intervention and the development of healthier relationship patterns.

How Betrayal Trauma Ignites Obsessive Love Disorder

Betrayal trauma, a form of psychological trauma that occurs when someone we depend on for survival or emotional support betrays our trust (such as in a relationship scam,) can play a pivotal role in transforming limerence into Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD). This transformation is often driven by the deep emotional wounds and maladaptive coping mechanisms that arise from the betrayal.

Here’s a detailed exploration of how betrayal trauma influences this progression:

Emotional Impact of Betrayal Trauma

Deep Emotional Wounds: Betrayal by a trusted individual, can cause profound emotional pain. This pain can create a heightened sensitivity to any signs of potential rejection or abandonment, intensifying the feelings of limerence and pushing them towards obsession.

Hypervigilance and Anxiety: Those who have experienced betrayal trauma often develop a heightened state of alertness and anxiety, constantly scanning for signs of further betrayal (thanks to the amygdala.) In the context of limerence, this hypervigilance can lead to obsessive monitoring and control behaviors, as the individual tries to prevent another traumatic betrayal.

Psychological Mechanisms

Fear of Abandonment: Betrayal trauma can instill a deep-seated fear of abandonment. When experiencing limerence, individuals may become excessively fearful that their feelings won’t be reciprocated or that their love interest will leave them – which of course, is exactly what happens at the end of the relationship scam. This is especially true when the victim does not understand that the face they long for is not real. This fear can drive them to obsessive behaviors to ensure the stability and presence of the love interest, a characteristic of OLD.

Need for Reassurance: After betrayal, there is often an increased need for reassurance and validation from others to rebuild self-worth and security. In limerence, this need can become overwhelming, with the individual seeking constant contact and affirmation from their love interest during the scam. However, after the scam ends, for many victims it is not as much a betrayal of trust as it is an abandonment. This excessive need for reassurance can evolve into the persistent, obsessive behaviors seen in OLD.

Behavioral Patterns Reinforced by Betrayal Trauma

Control and Possessiveness: To avoid the pain of abandonment, individuals can deny that it ever was a scam, and might try to control or possess their love interest. In limerence, this can start as a strong desire to be close to the person but can escalate to controlling behaviors, frequent checking, and attempts to dominate the love interest’s time and attention, hallmark behaviors of OLD.

Intrusive Thoughts and Rumination: Betrayal can lead to intrusive thoughts and rumination about the betrayal and the fear of it happening again, or if the victim cannot accept that it was a scam will view it as an abandonment. These intrusive thoughts can merge with the obsessive thinking patterns of limerence, making it difficult for the individual to focus on anything other than their love interest and potential threats to the relationship.

Cognitive and Psychological Influences

Cognitive Distortions: Betrayal trauma can result in cognitive distortions such as mistrust, suspicion, and paranoia. In limerence, these distortions can lead to obsessive questioning of the love interest’s loyalty and fidelity, interpreting ambiguous situations as potential betrayals and responding with obsessive behaviors.

Negative Self-Perception: Betrayal can severely impact self-esteem and self-worth. Individuals may feel unlovable or fear they are not enough to keep someone’s love. In limerence, if the victim has not accepted that it was a scam, this negative self-perception can lead to an obsessive need to prove oneself to the love interest, constantly seeking affirmation and engaging in behaviors aimed at securing their affection.

Pathway to Obsessive Love Disorder

Intensification of Limerence: The heightened emotional states and maladaptive coping mechanisms stemming from betrayal trauma can intensify the feelings of limerence, coupled with denial pushing them toward an obsessive focus on the fabricated love interest.

Escalation of Behaviors: The obsessive thoughts and behaviors initially seen in limerence can escalate due to the unresolved trauma and denial that there was a scam, transforming into the more severe and persistent patterns characteristic of OLD. The individual’s attempts to secure love and avoid further betrayal can become all-consuming, significantly impairing their ability to function in daily life. This also leads to repeated attempts to find love and repeating the steps that led them to be scammed originally.

Intervention and Healing

Addressing the underlying betrayal trauma through therapeutic interventions is crucial in preventing the progression from limerence to OLD. Trauma-focused therapies, such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and attachment-based therapies, can help individuals process their trauma, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and form more secure attachments.

Betrayal trauma can deeply influence an individual’s emotional and psychological state, making them more susceptible to the transition from limerence to Obsessive Love Disorder. Understanding this connection highlights the importance of addressing past traumas in therapeutic settings to foster healthier relationship patterns and prevent the development of pathological obsessions.

Moving Forward

While victims of romance scams believe they have fallen in love, it is often the powerful and consuming state of limerence that has been manipulated by scammers to exploit their emotions and resources. Recognizing the distinction between genuine love and limerence can help protect individuals from falling prey to such scams and aid in the recovery of those who have been affected.

Understanding the role of limerence in romance scams is very important for both prevention and recovery. Understanding potential signs of limerence and the tactics used by scammers, helping them recognize when their feelings were manipulated, can help victims come to grip with their reality and let go of the shame for the emotions they felt. Recognizing the nature of this emotional experience is a vital step in the healing process, allowing scam victims to rebuild their lives and relationships with greater awareness and resilience.

Important Information for New Scam Victims

If you are looking for local trauma counselors please visit or join SCARS for our counseling/therapy benefit:

If you need to speak with someone now, you can dial 988 or find phone numbers for crisis hotlines all around the world here:

Statement About Victim Blaming

Some of our articles discuss various aspects of victims. This is both about better understanding victims (the science of victimology) and their behaviors and psychology. This helps us to educate victims/survivors about why these crimes happened and to not blame themselves, better develop recovery programs, and to help victims avoid scams in the future. At times this may sound like blaming the victim, but it does not blame scam victims, we are simply explaining the hows and whys of the experience victims have.

These articles, about the Psychology of Scams or Victim Psychology – meaning that all humans have psychological or cognitive characteristics in common that can either be exploited or work against us – help us all to understand the unique challenges victims face before, during, and after scams, fraud, or cybercrimes. These sometimes talk about some of the vulnerabilities the scammers exploit. Victims rarely have control of them or are even aware of them, until something like a scam happens and then they can learn how their mind works and how to overcome these mechanisms.

Articles like these help victims and others understand these processes and how to help prevent them from being exploited again or to help them recover more easily by understanding their post-scam behaviors. Learn more about the Psychology of Scams at

SCARS Resources:

Psychology Disclaimer:

All articles about psychology and the human brain on this website are for information & education only

The information provided in this and other SCARS articles are intended for educational and self-help purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional therapy or counseling.

Note about Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices have the potential to create psychological distress for some individuals. Please consult a mental health professional or experienced meditation instructor for guidance should you encounter difficulties.

While any self-help techniques outlined herein may be beneficial for scam victims seeking to recover from their experience and move towards recovery, it is important to consult with a qualified mental health professional before initiating any course of action. Each individual’s experience and needs are unique, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another.

Additionally, any approach may not be appropriate for individuals with certain pre-existing mental health conditions or trauma histories. It is advisable to seek guidance from a licensed therapist or counselor who can provide personalized support, guidance, and treatment tailored to your specific needs.

If you are experiencing significant distress or emotional difficulties related to a scam or other traumatic event, please consult your doctor or mental health provider for appropriate care and support.

If you are in crisis, feeling desperate, or in despair please call 988 or your local crisis hotline.

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.


The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of the Society of Citizens Against Rleationship Scams Inc. The author is solely responsible for the content of their work. SCARS is protected under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) section 230 from liability.







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