Your Kid Might Be a Psychopath -- But It's Not Your Fault
If you're pregnant and read the recent New York Times article about young psychopaths, you probably looked down at your belly and said, "Don't you DARE turn out to be like that!" The piece -- which followed a 9-year-old "psychopath" named Michael -- was absolutely chilling. It asked the question, can young kids really be psychopaths? Can they have no feelings for others, can they be manipulative, can they hate with the venom of an adult? After reading it, I'd have to say the answer to all of that is yes.
And this is a good thing. Not good that it occurs, but good that people are finally considering the notion that very young children, even children as young as 3 (when Michael began his behavior), can be psychopaths due to genetic and neurological factors. Because for eons bad behavior in children has been blamed on two things: The devil or Mom. And since most of us don't believe the devil possesses children anymore, that leaves Mom.
Once I witnessed a young boy in my lobby having an epic temper tantrum. He was screaming, kicking, and punching out wildly. His mother calmly spoke to him and didn't get angry (like I would have!). I told my pregnant friend that I couldn't believe how calm the mother stayed while her child acted horrifically. My friend replied, "Maybe that's why he acts that way."
Excuse me?! If the mother had yelled at the boy, then that would have been the issue. But because she was calm, then that was the issue. In other words, if you're a mother, damned if you do, damned if you don't. Society will blame you, other mothers will blame you, maybe even your husband and kids will blame you. It's about time we looked at the brain, and not just at Mom.
I don't know what the solution is for young psychopaths, who may grow up to be the killers, abusers, and scammers of society (and a good deal of its financial types too, but that's another story). The children in the Times story weren't your typical temper-tantrum throwing kids. These were kids who would cut the tail off the family pet, who would threaten to kill their siblings, who caused mayhem all of the time.
But I do know one thing: Anything that encourages us to look at bad behavior in children as something other than a problem with Mom can only be a good thing.
Do you think child psychopaths exist?
Image via Paolo Lim/Flickr