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Kids' Health Kids' Health

"Can a Kid Be a Psychopath?"

Posted by on May. 15, 2012 at 2:44 PM
  • 6 Replies


The groundbreaking HBO documentary "Child of Rage" years ago showed how horrific abuse and neglect could leave a child unable to bond with other people, turning them into children "without conscience, who can hurt or even kill without remorse." In other words: the child becomes a psychopath

But what about the kids who aren't abused? What about the ones who, for no discernible reason, do horrible things to other people? 



Anyone else get chills reading this article?  Anyone know kids that you feel exhibit the traits mentioned?  Do you think some are born this way or is it all nurture?
by on May. 15, 2012 at 2:44 PM
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Replies (1-6):
PrincessZ20
by on May. 15, 2012 at 3:04 PM

I read an article on it the other day.  I think that it is possible for kids to be psychopathic.  I think that most of it is in their nature (imbalance of some sort, mental illness), but nurture can definitely play a role as well.  A perfectly "normal" child could do unthinkable things if they're pushed hard enough (abused, neglected, etc). 

I know a couple of kids who are awful.  I wouldn't go so far as to call them psychopathic, but I think there's a good chance they'll grow up to be bullies.  They're mean, they're destructive, they are often violent for no reason, they're disobedient, they seem to get pleasure out of smashing bugs, etc.  The moms are normal and involved in the kids' lives - however, they seem oblivious to the idea that their precious child needs discipline and/or intervention. 


corrinacs
by on May. 15, 2012 at 3:54 PM

It did give me chills too.  I guess the thing this article didn't make totally clear is that its hard to diagnose a child this young...and a lot of the "symptoms" they listed reminded me of a typical toddler (other than teh murdring of course). 

At leat that's How I felt.  WIth Caden, he doesn't listen sometimes, wants his way and if he doesn't get it starts whining....lately he tries to go behind oru back to get it.....its just typical kids.

IQuitCounting
by on May. 15, 2012 at 6:19 PM

There are actually distinct differences between the normal level of manipulation of a child (their testing of their limits as they learn how to get what they want from life) and what the article is discussing.  A the whining is typically not a sign at all.  In a psychotic child (assuming for the moment this is fact, bear with me), when not given their way would do one of two things, either calmly think of a way around the obstacle, or lash out violentlly (not like hitting, think much bigger) at the person that denied them.  The violence doesn't have to be at that moment either, it could be something they exact at a later point.

In my own studies of psychology, and what I've witnessed in a select few children, is the absolute lack of concern for how their actions affect others.  They will steal time and time again with no care for the fact that it's not only illegal and morally wrong, but with no care for how it affects the person they stole from, there's no remorse (accept over the fact that they got caught).  In dealing with other kids they will often trip, clothesline, pinch, hair pull, just to see what the other child will do but they don't really care how it makes them FEEL.  It's an exercise in mere cause and effect.  I think that if you had the chance to observe a child who they suspect is psychotic, you'd see, possibly even feel the difference in their behavior.  Also, this is being studied in children past the toddler age, after they should already have a grasp of right/wrong, cause/effect, etc.

The article was actually a little too brief, I agree, which is probably because they didn't want to just rehash what the documentary said, and that a lot of the research at this point is still such a grey area they have to be careful what they publish so as not to mislead.

My eldest brother, while not psychotic, did exhibit psychotic tendencies.  He was very bright, had little to no empathy, and took to catching and dissecting small animals at a young age, however he was extremely socially awkward (psychopaths can actually be very charismatic, American Psycho does a good job of portraying that) and as it turns out was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia around the age 14.

I believe that it can come about in a person either way, via nature or nurture.


Quoting corrinacs:

It did give me chills too.  I guess the thing this article didn't make totally clear is that its hard to diagnose a child this young...and a lot of the "symptoms" they listed reminded me of a typical toddler (other than teh murdring of course). 

At leat that's How I felt.  WIth Caden, he doesn't listen sometimes, wants his way and if he doesn't get it starts whining....lately he tries to go behind oru back to get it.....its just typical kids.


new_mom808
by Andrea on May. 15, 2012 at 7:54 PM

 DH and I were just discussing this today. He's read the article. I have not.

I do believe it's completely nurture. I think that born w/ an imbalance or not, it can be helped or hindered by upbringing.

mcr17
by on May. 15, 2012 at 7:57 PM

i think children can become this way with or without abuse and yes i do think some people are born this way.

new_mom808
by Andrea on May. 15, 2012 at 7:58 PM

 See, I think that children naturally have no empathy, or sense of right and wrong. We teach them what is acceptable. We teach them, thus mapping those pathways, how to empathize.
Before that, everything is a study in cause and effect.

Quoting IQuitCounting:

There are actually distinct differences between the normal level of manipulation of a child (their testing of their limits as they learn how to get what they want from life) and what the article is discussing.  A the whining is typically not a sign at all.  In a psychotic child (assuming for the moment this is fact, bear with me), when not given their way would do one of two things, either calmly think of a way around the obstacle, or lash out violentlly (not like hitting, think much bigger) at the person that denied them.  The violence doesn't have to be at that moment either, it could be something they exact at a later point.

In my own studies of psychology, and what I've witnessed in a select few children, is the absolute lack of concern for how their actions affect others.  They will steal time and time again with no care for the fact that it's not only illegal and morally wrong, but with no care for how it affects the person they stole from, there's no remorse (accept over the fact that they got caught).  In dealing with other kids they will often trip, clothesline, pinch, hair pull, just to see what the other child will do but they don't really care how it makes them FEEL.  It's an exercise in mere cause and effect.  I think that if you had the chance to observe a child who they suspect is psychotic, you'd see, possibly even feel the difference in their behavior.  Also, this is being studied in children past the toddler age, after they should already have a grasp of right/wrong, cause/effect, etc.

The article was actually a little too brief, I agree, which is probably because they didn't want to just rehash what the documentary said, and that a lot of the research at this point is still such a grey area they have to be careful what they publish so as not to mislead.

My eldest brother, while not psychotic, did exhibit psychotic tendencies.  He was very bright, had little to no empathy, and took to catching and dissecting small animals at a young age, however he was extremely socially awkward (psychopaths can actually be very charismatic, American Psycho does a good job of portraying that) and as it turns out was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia around the age 14.

I believe that it can come about in a person either way, via nature or nurture.


Quoting corrinacs:

It did give me chills too.  I guess the thing this article didn't make totally clear is that its hard to diagnose a child this young...and a lot of the "symptoms" they listed reminded me of a typical toddler (other than teh murdring of course). 

At leat that's How I felt.  WIth Caden, he doesn't listen sometimes, wants his way and if he doesn't get it starts whining....lately he tries to go behind oru back to get it.....its just typical kids.


 

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