What we can learn about sociopaths from the gripping Dirty John Netflix drama

By  |  0 Comments

AT the start, John Meehan in Netflix’s true-crime series Dirty John appeared to have it all – good looks, charm and a seemingly philanthropic career.
Dirty John, starring Eric Bana and American actress Connie Britton, is an eight-part true crime anthology series based on the Los Angeles Times podcast of the same name.
Despite appearing to be Mr Perfect at the start of the show, it seemed Mr Meehan – a self-claimed anesthesiologist – was hiding a wealth of disgustingly filthy secrets.


Dirty John is played by Hollywood star Eric Bana


As the story begins to unfold, so does Meehan’s relationship with Debra Newell when her family noticed disturbing eccentricities in her fairytale romance.
The captivating real life story is a cautionary tale of how a sociopath or psychopath swiftly enters his victim’s life and works his charm before destroying everything around him.
Sadly, in more than a few cases – it is tragically too late, or the psychological damage to the partners, children and families escalates to a point of trauma that has long term consequences.
In the show, Bana brilliantly captivates the early red flags of a narcissist or sociopath – wanting to move exceedingly fast, exerting coercive control, isolating his victim – all the while ‘love-bombing’ his target.
Then, when the cracks begin to show and Debra begins to see through her sociopathic husband, he begins Vendetta Stalking – a clear sign of Revenge Obsession.


The real John Meehan with Debrah Newells, during happier times.



Victims targeted by a narcissistic or sociopathic ex are typically trapped in an endless nightmare of a high conflict divorce / breakup situation.
The revenge-obsessed ex will recruit new romantic interests, file false allegations to the police and try to destroy their victim’s career in a bid to isolate them further and prevent them from moving on with their lives.
As seen on the show, tactics include smear campaigning, gaslighting friends and family into believing the aggressor is actually the victim, or telling tales about mental instability of the targeted ex in order to ensure if they ever decide to talk and report abuse, they will be doubted.
They go out of their way to convince anyone who will listen to them that their preferred scapegoat target is nuts, delusional, malevolent, insanely jealous of them, and out to socially harm or destroy them, too.
In the case of ‘Dirty John,’ he starts off by threatening to destroy Debra’s family, then moves on to targeting her interior design business, playing the victim, intimidating her in his car and trying to destroy her finances.


Real life John vs actor Eric Bana



In the case of most narcissists, they are pathologically envious of anyone who dares to outshine them or steal the spotlight – so whoever presents a threat must be extinguished.
These odious creatures will try to destroy the reputations of their victims – who are often more successful or beautiful than them – in a bid to prevent them from being able to move on with someone else or further their career in future.
They may try to publicly shame you, degrade you or cause you the uttermost distress – and they will get a kick out of doing so.
If your ex or an estranged party is Machiavellian enough to socially orchestrate complete lies and fabrications to hide the very real fact they are situationally abusing you, then it is more than likely they are a predatory sociopath type.




On the show, John Meehan is pathologically envious of his target’s career and finances, and does everything in his power to try and destroy this.

Showing zero respect for the people in their own lives by lying and maliciously defaming their ex (making up stories, spinning revisionist history tales, and flat lying about anything and everything they can daydream up to frustrate, hurt, confuse, and embarrass a target), the more extreme their personality disorder, the longer such games will appeal to them to play.
Like petulant teenagers behaving with an unjustified and/or illegal sense of entitlement, the Narcopath cannot resist the urge to make malevolent mischief no matter what the day or situation.
They are then completely incapable of feeling guilt, shame, or logical remorse for engaging in hostile, covert, or destructive acts.




One of the most terrifying moments to fear when dealing with this type of sicko is when you finally discover the real them – and the mask slips.
The narcissist mask is what he wears to assert a face of superiority and entitlement, protecting himself from intolerable feelings of invalidation, otherwise known as “narcissistic injury.”
In Dirty John, when the pretend ‘doctor’ is exposed by his former wife, he experiences the ultimate narcissistic rage – causing him to explode.
This is when you start to uncover the real them, leading them to show their truly empathy-starved real selves, and they go into full discard or revenge mode.
They may at first do everything possible to punish you or coerce you into staying – including love-bombing you again to make you remember the good times.
During the same time they’re throwing in crumbs of affection, they’re also plotting on how to best way to destroy you while pretending to be ‘doing better.’
This is solely for the purpose of gaining control over you and by default, the narcissist has to turn against you because you are no longer providing them with they fuel they need.
The whole functioning of these individuals is to dupe people into thinking they are holier than thou and when exposed, they will do everything in their power to ruin your life.


Here are some ways you can spot the signs of a sociopath early on



  • They charm the pants off of everyone in the room
  • They lie constantly and their lies don’t add up
  • They try to move the relationship forward faster than expected
  • You feel like you always have to apologise
  • They seem sneaky
  • Bragging about their accomplishments
  • Seems too good to be true
  • They love-bomb you early on
  • They appear to have no empathy
  • Little regard for your feelings
  • Manipulative
  • Cruel to animals or children
  • Successful and intelligent
  • Ruthless
  • Can’t hold down relationships
  • Move from relationship to relationship
  • Can never see when they are in the wrong
  • Obsessive
  • Superficial and shallow
  • You feel something isn’t right about them
  • Silent treatment
  • Punishments
  • Incites jealousy or emotional chaos
  • Calls you ‘crazy’ or irrational for no reason




Styletto Mag is a Scottish online magazine that publishes the latest articles on fashion, beauty, travel, food and relationships. The site was founded in August 2011. Styletto Mag is a sleek, easy to access online magazine which features shopping trends, beauty reviews, funny features, and women's lifestyle articles. To contribute or submit articles, send them to editor.styletto@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.