By | May 22, 2010 132 Comments

Are we born with a sense of right and wrong?

Researchers at Yale University developed studies to answer the question: Do babies have a sense of right and wrong? What they came up with may surprise you.

Read The moral life of babies, on Be sure to watch the video.

Link submitted by a Lovefraud reader.

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Ox Drover

This is an extremely interesting article to me….I wonder, though, how a baby born with HIGH genetic traits for lack of empathy would test out on this test as a baby?

I think though, it does highlight that BABIES are not born “blank slates” though, and that the EARLY (preverbal) months and years are HIGHLY IMPORTANT.

We knew these infant times were/are important in animals, so I can’t understand why no one would “get it” that the pre-verbal times of an infant would not be VGERY IMPORTANT. We do know that the infant’s BRAIN IS GROWING and forming tissue and connections, so how could these early months NOT be of critical importance.

A kitten is born with its eyes closed, and if you were to patch one of their eyes for only a few days at the “proper” (critical) time that they are supposed to open, the eye itself will not be harmed but it will forever have NO CONNECTION to the brain that interprets “sight”—-because since that eye got no light, it never developed the connections in the brain. I wonder what connections in the baby’s brain are NEVER DEVELOPED if that infant is not cuddled, interacted with, etc. We learned in WWII in t he British orphanages that babies actually require interaction more than just feeding and bathing in order to even LIVE. Babies will DIE if they are not “wanted” and cared for in a LOVING WAY. It is also called “failure to thrive syndrome.” I have actually witnessed this in infants whose mothers were teenagers who did not really bond with their infants and didn’t know how (or want to in some cases) interact with the baby more than minimially.

So, what about the kids who are plopped into a day care at age 6 weeks where they are primarily left to lie in their crib rather than receive adequate interaction? They may be clean and fed, but are they getting the interaction necessary to develop empathy? Wonder how a 9 month old that had been in day care since age 6 weeks would test out on “morality?”



Very interesting. I know this is a scientific study but it does tip into spirituality also, if we “come in ” with an innate sense of right and wrong.
We have all seen people emerge from cruel neglectful backgrounds with their sense of right and wrong intact…I watched the video

A psychopathic baby may well choose the “helpful” puppet because they can manipulate a helpful one to do what they want! It does not nessecarily mean the baby has a sense of right and wrong.
Psychopaths seem to always choose “nice” people, no news there.

in the womb a psychopathic baby might be all important, have every need met, feel comfortable and secure, possess a sharp instinct to keep it that way! what develops empathy here? the only crying a psychopathic baby will be doing will be to get its own way, and nice friendly people are the perfect breeding grounds for the “cuckoo” to take control and push every other competing sibling out of the picture. What does a mother do? love the child no matter what, turn a blind eye and hope for the best….

Scientific studies are slow, costly, and there are enough psychopaths out there at this stage to start their own scientific study…how to scam the entire population. Stop em!


Donna, I found the article to be interesting, as well, but rather frightening at the same time.

Bulletproof, I think your insight makes sense to me. I wonder, can spathy be taught OUT of a child? Is it possible that an infant that is raised in a responsible, honest, and supportive environment develop into a healthy, productive, and empathetic adult even if it demonstrates spath tendencies?

Now, here’s the question that I have with regard to infants and spathy (true story): a baby is born to a couple that engages in moral, ethical, and criminal acts. Both the mother and father are deviants and have been found guilty of rape. What are the odds that this baby (now 18 months) will be genetically predisposed to spathy? The mother, out on bond until sentencing, has said to someone, “I can’t believe that we were found guilty. After all, she (rape victim) is a known Party Girl.” As an aside, I nearly got sick when I heard this quote.

Already, since the parents have been found guilty and are awaiting sentencing, people (even within the immediate family members) are eyeballing this kid (and, other offspring) as “Bad Seeds.” This baby is 18 months, and is being shunned by aunts, uncles, and cousins, and will have to carry the burden of its parents’ crimes for the rest of its life. What kind of hope is there that this poor kid will be an empathetic human being given its genetic history and the treatment that its experiencing at this stage of its life?

Is this how the cycle of spathy and abuse continues? I think it would be an interesting study to follow this child into its adulthood. Long, long study, to be sure, but it might provide some insight into what, specifically, contributes to spathy.


Much to respond to here, but will only respond to a few things as my hands have been very bad the last couple of days, so I have had to keep my typing to a minimum.

Evidence of empathy —
“Human babies, notably, cry more to the cries of other babies than to tape recordings of their own crying, suggesting that they are responding to their awareness of someone else’s pain, not merely to a certain pitch of sound.”

“ ‘Tis not contrary to reason,” he wrote, “to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger.” To have a genuinely moral system, in other words, some things first have to matter, and what we see in babies is the development of mattering.”
— And why we see no moral system in ppaths. Not a damn thing matters outside themselves.

“After showing the babies the scene, the experimenter placed the helper and the hinderer on a tray and brought them to the child. In this instance, we opted to record not the babies’ looking time but rather which character they reached for, on the theory that what a baby reaches for is a reliable indicator of what a baby wants. In the end, we found that 6- and 10-month-old infants overwhelmingly preferred the helpful individual to the hindering individual. This wasn’t a subtle statistical trend; just about all the babies reached for the good guy.”
—- Even the ppaths reach for the good guy. In fact, if the population here can be regarded as a study group and are any indication, the ppaths reach for the REALLY good guy. Because we can be guaranteed to care; to override our own safety and security for that of others?

“All that we can safely infer from what the babies reached for is that babies prefer the good guy and show an aversion to the bad guy. But what’s exciting here is that these preferences are based on how one individual treated another, on whether one individual was helping another individual achieve its goals or hindering it.”
— Evidence of a sense of society/ community, and what helps or hinders that drive to such? Which, we all have seen, is NOT present in the ppath.

“Babies possess certain moral foundations the capacity and willingness to judge the actions of others, some sense of justice, gut responses to altruism and nastiness.”
—okay, of the babies who did not respond in this way, what can be inferred from their responses? For us the next step would be what are the behaviours, patterns of behavior and suppositions about babies who don’t show the majority traits? To evolve the study into one that could link the decisions being made to genetics brain scanning could be incorporated ”“ so that the experience of the babies’ choices could be mapped.


Very briefly,The story I was going around with in my head, was all babies come in with empathy. it’s innate. They would be able to sense (in a preverbal primal way) suffering, emotional pain in the womb and respond to it from a place of empathy (real self), then given too much pain to deal with they could get to a point where they “shut down” empathic response (real self) because it’s too distressing and employ defence mechanisms, one of those defense mechanisms is psychopathic (along with schizoid, Rigid, Oral and masochistic) (Reich 1950’s)…..with help and love from a loving human being we can Learn to trust again and so open back up to our essential nature, real self….which is empathic, co-operative, productive and loving….

The story I now have in my head is that… a psychopath cannot be healed, therefore has nothing to re-connect to, has never “shut down” feelings in favour of a defense mechanism because there were no feelings in the first place to protect…so that all the love in the world won’t bring them “back” from the dark edge of no remorse….

It appears having empathy is only one scenario, not the whole picture.
If babies are BORN psychopathic then it is akin to “another species ” that are remarkably close in appearance to the other but are vastly different. They may do the same things, but for completely different reasons.


bulletproof – ‘It appears having empathy is only one scenario, not the whole picture.’ YES!

i had a similar paradigm in my mind – now have adjusted it also. it’s a pretty big adjustment.

i bet there is some genetic reformulation that could be done. stem cell therapy or something. we will not see it’s development in our lifetimes – nor a social will to use it.


But, even if we COULD genetically intervene, would that put an end to spathy? I don’t believe that it would. With some, it has to be genetic. But, with others, it’s a learned behavior (as in my former family).

Does anyone remember the movie, “The Bad Seed?” About the little girl who is clearly ppath. If you have never seen it, I strongly recommend it. Two loving parents produce a beautiful child. The child is a sociopath to the Nth degree, and they cannot reconcile this beautiful little girl with the monster that she truly is – a murderer at her young age. It is an older movie, but a very poignant glimpse into the sociopathic child.

I think that prior to the 1970’s, the film industry and playwrights took a serious look at sociopathy as an anomaly – something out of the ordinary and addressed it as such. Today, media advertising, network programming, and the music industry has thrown over to the “Dark Side” and has actually capitalized on sociopathy as something that is not only acceptable, but encouraged.

So, with this disturbing trend in accepting spathy as appropriate behavior, would genetic intervention even matter?


buttons – i think you are quite right about the direction in the movies.

did you ever read the Incredible Mr. Ripley series? It was written by Barbara Highsmith andis about a ppath. a weighty new bio has been published about her. About 4 pages in, i was a bit shocked to see the cluster b traits displayed in all their glory. So, this woman, who had written such an eloquent ppath character…..

i do think that spathy would disappear over generations, if the genetic roots of it were ripped out. you are quite right in that there are learned behaviours (connected with all disorders and all dysfunctional dynamics) – my own mother’s father was a violent alcoholic, and although my parent’s barely drank, i have a LOT of the tendencies of a child of an alcoholic – and these would take generations to weed out. but i believe if the root was gone, that over time, the branches would die out also.

just my take on in.


WOW………..we’re doing some deep discussions, this morning! LOVE IT!!!! All of that rice pudding between my ears is getting electrified into brain matter, for a change! 😀

Well, my understanding is based upon my college Biology classes. We reviewed a number of studies (back BEFORE genetic engineering was possible) of selective breeding and propagation. Plants and animals were specifically bred to “weed out” certain genetic traits and maintain other specific traits.

Over a course of generations, it appeared that a genetically linked group of mice had been “cured” of a specific physical issue. Then, after about 18 generations, WHAMMO!!!!!!!! This trait pops back into the genetic code. Same with plant studies. So, the bottom line of these studies seemed to be that, no matter how human beings attempt to alter genetics, there will always be that random anomaly.

And, I have to say that I have a personal aversion to genetic engineering. It has nothing to do with stem cells, etc., but it has to do with the Human Condition. We are not God and we’re playing God by GMO’s and the consequences of splicing animal genes into genetic information of plants. This could be a website all on its own, eh? But, my very personal feeling is that we cannot “cure” the world of human frailties, be they spathy or defective heart valves. If we tamper with one thing, something else is going to occur as a random course of Nature.

Boy, I need more coffee and a Tylenol, after that! LOLOLOLOL


buttons, one step

Hee hee the rice pudding between the ears certainly gets electrified on meeting, falling in love with and experiencing a psychopath up close!
You have to think a way through it, other option? go nuts. I just know I will be mulling this over in the brain matter till I die…as for tackling this psychopath at the genetic level or stem cell level…as Buttons says and I think it is the nature of the Universe:

there will always be that random anomaly


buttons 🙂 my best wishes to your transforming rice puddin’.

i have not studied biology – and i think your info. the reappearance of recessive genes fascinating. again, that is a recurrence because of combining DNA (what i remember from high school science ;)) of several individuals – so, if ppathy was wiped out in ALL populations, those factors would not have the opportunity to co mingle and become dominant in any given individual. right?

i have re-jigged my beliefs in many ways after the ppath. death sentence? onside now for spaths. genetic engineering? would consider for spaths. i also beleive that all that we do affects all that we do. but that does not mean that changing something would necessarily bring a negative result. – perhaps, instead it is a cascade of positive that comes tumbling our way.

i do agree that we as humans are always doing things ‘because we can’. just becuase we can build increasingly devastating bombs, we do. what will be the result of that endevour over time? well, that wasn’t taken into consideration by the folks that built the n bomb (and they have said so publicly)…did it because it was science and because like all the other stupid shit we do, ‘because we could.’ and this brings us right back around to ‘conscience’ – and how much we have/ don’t’ have, and how finely we develop and use what we do have.

in general, we are in trouble as a species because we don’t exercise what we do have, and because of THAT, i believe the ppaths get away with a lot more, because we like to think that they are like us, but just ACT less conscientiously than we do, we like to believe they really “ARE just like us” (in part. because it is so hard to contemplate what they may really be), and WE don’t want to look at our morally/ ethically suspect behavior, so we let ppaths have at it…’we’ (humanity) act like a bunch of delinquent children, by and large.

well, don’t know where THAT rant came from….but no, I do. I am thinking about people who run from acknowledging the ppathic behavior in this world, and what that means for all of us. i am thinking that the ‘blame’ of the loss of one of my relationships in the last week or so rests squarely on the shoulders of the ppath. yes, it is MY responsibility to take care of my relationships, and my friend’s responsibility to take care of hers… but it was the ppaths bullshit that caused this probably irreconcilable rupture. i will do what i need to do – but i also NEED to make an account of all that the @#$%^ cost me. JUST SO THAT I AM REALLY REALLY CLEAR ON WHAT SHE COST ME.

back to genetic engineering – yes, we suck at evaluating the possible consequences of our scientific actions. but i do not think that monsanto engineering corn so that it has to be grown with their chemicals and rapes the land of nutrients, renders it useless, and injects it with petroleum products that poisons much or the world’s popluation; and is quickly turning it into the world’s monopolizing food producer is the same as removing this gene/ set of gene’s from the pool. i see one application of genetic engineering as negative and the other as potentially positive.

it deserves an enormous amount of consideration, both as a stand alone idea, and as an idea within the context of genetic engineering within humans (and i don’t engage in slippery slope theories).

having this experience with the ppath has meant i look at things differently, and more critically than before. many of my ideas are now in their infancy. need discussion and time to ripen and mature. if it would be possible to stop spathy…


One_step, the most interesting thing of walking the healing path is that our ideas and beliefs are constantly maturing and evolving. With each new person that we come into contact with, we learn something new and valuable.

Ox Drover

Good Sunday morning gals,

Well, I think the oil spill is going to wipe out humanity, so it doesn’t matter if Ps are genetic or learned, we are all doomed anyway! How’s that for a cheery good morning!?! LOL

Okay, I’m doing “LF Saturday night Live” on Sunday morning!

I just finished anothr great book called “The Other Brain” which was recommended to my son D by a medical student friend of his (used in their classes) and it went into all this detail about how the brain GROWS new connections, and here-to-fore they didn’t realize that the glia cells in the central nervous system (brain) were anything but insulation for the neurons, but are finding out they are actually controlling the neurons.

Which gives me hope that the Nurture aspects of a child born with the genetic tendency for P-ism can be used to prevent the full blown disorder.

I don’t guess we will ever truly in our life times know the answer to these questions, but at the same time, it gives me so much hope to think (whether it is true or not!) that a child is not born DOOMED to be a psychopath by genetics. That there is some HOPE for that child. I believe in “free will” in that we all have CHOICES in our behavior. Some of us have more of a “load” of genetic and/or “bad childhoods” to contend with (just like some folks are more prone to alcoholism than others) but we still have CHOICES of how we behave.

I DO think though that after a certain period of time, that the CHOICES to change our behavior are pretty slim to none, or that as the Bible says “the heart is hardened” and is NOT going to change. It is kind of like you go so far and there is NO turning back from the brink, once you cross that line it is a done deal.

I also wonder, if genetics + nurture (or lack of it)=psychopath, then does genetics+nurture (or lack of it) also produce the victim? I’m actually starting to lean that direction, because if “they” are produced by a combination of genetics and environment, they why wouldn’t it also hold true for “us”?

Is it also possible that is the reason that so many victims stay in the victim mode “for life”? What is the difference between those victims who WANT and DO change and “escape” and those that never even try to escape (Stockholm syndrome?) Does it have to do with the prey animal’s tendency to “freeze” when trapped and stop struggling?

They have shown that our perception of pain is both a learned perception, (how your culture shows or doesn’t show pain response) but mostly a genetic one. There are two genes for this, one for “wimp” and one for “stoic”, if you get two wimp genes (one from each parent) you will faint dead away from a paper cut, if you get one of each, you are in the middle, and if you get two stoic genes you don’t seem to notice a broken leg (a bit exagerated there! LOL but you get the points)

So maybe our (escaped victims’) “freeze” genes when we are trapped are not as predominant as those of other humans and we don’t surcumb to giving up as easily as some of our fellows to the Stockholm syndrome which would bind us to the abusers.

If you look at my family for example there is a MIX of victims and abusers, almost 50/50 and dominant men seem to choose subservient women to marry, although my egg donor seems to have some dominance and control issues, but I have also seen a great deal of environmental and family role assignment in her behavior, especially since my grandmother (her mother) died and she assumed more of the “peace at any price” role almost in a 180 degree turn around from her previous roles. (if that makes any sense) So assuming that both victim and psychopathic genes are recessive, plus need several of each to produce a totally submissive or dominant person, then it would seem to me that there would be some “ducks” and some “swans” in every litter— or I guess some Pit Bulls and some Beagles would b e more like it. So then if the Pit sought out a submissive mate, and vice versa (due to environment and training) the mix would continue forever.

Just some brain drizzle this morning but sure makes me curious….but you know what curosity did to the cat!


OxD, I’ve finally gotten to responding to your post on this article. I think that there are so many variables involved in the human psyche that genetic/environmental factors contribute to spath behavior. Cultural norms also contribute.

Your mentioning the victim “freeze” gene could truly be genetic, or also ingrained as a learned behavior. My mom was always the “peace at any price” person in our family. She wasn’t spath, but she was diagnosed in the last year of her life with bi-polar disorder, which explained a multitude of her behaviors. She wasn’t cruel, unless she was on a downward spiral, and it was very sad to watch her cycle the way that she did. She is also the person that compelled me to consider the “martyr syndrome” as a personality disorder. Like I’ve said before, I don’t know if this is even recognized in the psychological community, but she would deliberately make emotional, financial, and physical sacrifices in the firm belief that she would finally be appreciated if she could just sacrifice enough so that someone would notice.

Now, having said that, it relates directly to the “learned” aspect of victimization. I was adopted as an infant and, whether there was already a genetic predisposition for victim status or not, I saw the woman who raised me engaging in “martyr syndrome.” And, I honestly believe that this is what I also practiced with the ex spath. I took the abuse because I probably believed that, at some point, he would step back, see (and, acknowledge) my personal sacrifices (education, friends, innocence, etc.) and APPRECIATE me for having made them.

It’s not brain drizzle, at all, OxD! It’s a very astute observation that continues to expose the stinking underbelly of the abuser/spath/victim connection.

Ox Drover

Dear Buttons,

Oh, yes, I was such a “Martyr” where my P-son was concerned! Definitely there was some Environmental component to this as I was trained that this was my “fate” in the family to “keep the peace at ANY PRICE” when my egg donor passed on. Her mother was the Martyr before her and her mother before that. The P-gene goes back to AT LEAST a man born in about 1800 who was an alcoholic BEAST on the male line (I have court records from 1840s that you would Not even comprehend the violence they showed!) He was murdered at age 60 at his home by parties unknown but the family rumor is that he was such a jack ass that someone put him out of the family’s misery.

The family line also includes several muder/suicides as well and consistent alcoholic abuse, and I think (I can’t prove)at least once case of incest in the 1880s in close lateral branches of this family. There were 3 generations of murder/suicide in that line, ending with a woman about my age whose father was the last male survivor who was orphaned at age 2-3 by his father’s suicide and his grandfather’s suicide, we traced the family line via the “Poor house” records in Tennessee where the kids were sent when they were orphaned. Interesting research. It was sort of the “foster care” of the time, they put the kids into the “poor house” then farmed out the ones who were old enough to work to the “lowest bidder” to feed them. From the records that place must have been a pure hell-hole! The “poor house” was supposed to be self supporting as well, by growing produce and livestock…with kids and 75 year old stroke victims doing the work.

Even in “good” families the kids had a hard time growing up not so very long ago. As late as the 1950s the South was still in a depression from prior to the Civil War, it wasn’t until then that most country people had enough to eat 12 months of the year. Nutritional problems can also cause BIG TIME brain and congnitive problems for as much as three generations if the child is starved before birth (in the female offspring of deprived embryos)

We have a lot to be thankful for today.


We are all born with a moral adjuster at our core (perhaps, the essence of the soul).. then add in genetics and environment.
Nature vs Nurture and all it’s facets…

a good soul can be born into hell and not be corrupted.. another can adapt to survive, another, may become even more evil to get back at.. who knows why certain ones choose what… that is a question as big as the Universe…

The individual moral code, character, intelligence, creativity, tastes, desires, physical, mental, and emotional characteristics are all very individual based on the soul’s core, genetics and environment..

I do believe that most all children respond to kindness and respect. And that a harmed child can be taught through kindess, love and respect to heal themsleves if their core is open to this..
that is why forgiveness of harm done is key.. so as it won’t stay to corrupt your core..

I have done much in spiritual studies..
and all emotions and our feelings about them are good.. it’s that we move through them to release that we can arrive back at peace in our spirit. When a person feels love, loves themself, respects themself and others and feels fulfilled, they are not the ones that do harm to others.. as they have too much respect for human beings and self to harm another.
It’s the damaged ones that cause the most harm to others.
And our escalating loss of morals, values and the tradtional family traditions are causing more people to have little values in themselves and towards others.

Ox Drover

Donna, I totally agree with Liane on that, but I’m not sure if it a “good environment” doesn’t need to start prenatally, but at least by birth! I wonder about the “stress hormones” that the psychopath keeping us in distress does to the babies a woman carries while being so stressed.

BTW, Liane’s book is WONDERFUL for all of you with children, and keep in mind that a child’s brain doesn’t fully mature until early 20s as far as some of the higher aspects of cognition. Her web site about raising the “at risk child” is also a great resource. The ongoing research I recently read about in a book called “The Other Brain” seems to point to the fact that the brain is more “plastic” than medicine may have thought up to now so there may be a chance for some “later than infancy” help as well in the environmental departments. Let us hope and pray so!


Ox, we as a society can’t control who gets pregnant. Think of the drug addicts, the alcoholcis, the crazies that are carrying babies soon to be born … the baby had the stress invitro and then look at the enviroment that they land in..

But even then some come out kind, positively directed and okay..sometimes the ‘bad’ example, can create the shift to other choices..

So, what’s the full answer… geez, only God knows…


Donna, I’m sorry that I missed your response – these threads can scroll so quickly, sometimes!

Your comment takes me back to my previous question on this thread about the poor toddler whose parents are convicted rapists. What are this kids’ chances???

Ox Drover

Dear Style, Yes! Amen to that! The crack and meth babies born, just the sheer number of them makes my heart ache! The areas of famine where the preg women don’t get enough calories, much less nutrition makes me cry! I guess maybe I got too much of the “empathy’ gene! LOL

One of my earliest memories about age 4-5 was seeing a little girl on the streets in my town in winter who was without a coat on a COLD day, and I remember feeling so sad for her. I can still “see” the picture of her in my mind. I recall seeing people scavenging in the city dump for food when I was probably 7-8 when my stepdad and I went there at Christmas time with food baskets from the church. I wonder how they fared the other 364 days of the year. I’ve always been I think a push over for a sad story, for hungry or abused people and wanted to take them in and feed/fix them.

This has left me open to being abused myself by psychopaths who used the “pity ploy” so I have to keep my emotions in check on my feelings of wanting to “help.” I’ve been suckered in severalo times by Ps posing as victims.

The last time was last summer by a female P I “took in” out of pity and wanting to “help” her—any time I start feeling “pity” I have to slap myself up side the head with the cyber SKILLET and say “Is this your responsibility?” I still try to do “good works” but do them in a way that I cannot be individually victimized.

The “good samaritan” helped the beaten traveler, and he left some money to help the guy out after he left, but he then MOVED ON HIS WAY, he didn’t neglect himself and his own business to stay there and personally nurse this guy. He was using GOOD SENSE and Also GOOD WILL. So that is what I am training myself to do as well. Follow that example, not get caught up in the drama or pity.


OxD – anonymous support is one of the ways to protect ourselves. When I was involved in a women’s shelter, I was short-term victim to some of the transient “victims.” Not much cash, but feeling that pity………oh, boy.

Ox Drover

There was a time when I thought I could “fix the world” (I think I was 17 or 18) and knew all the answers, as I have gotten older I know I dont even know all the QUESTIONS! LOL

I also know that while there is great injustice in this world, horrible things, I can’t fix them all and I also can’t Focus on all those things either. I am only ONE, but I can do what ONE can do. That is all I am required to do is what I CAN DO. Even Jesus couldn’t “fix” the world with His love, because people used Him, people abused Him, were ungrateful to Him, so what makes me think I can fix the world!? My own arrogance?

Yep! Well, I’m not quite so arrogant any more, and am not trying to Burden myself with ALL the problems in the whole entire world. I almost think I am “programmed” to want to “FIX” everything, so have to keep working at pushing that desire/feeling/thought down and reaffirming that I am NOT responsible for every bad thing that happens to anyone in the entire world.

I had a therapist tell me a looooong time ago that if there was only one pound of guilt in the world and it was layed down in the middle of Siberia that I would RUN, not walk, to grab it ALL for myself. Even though this was a long time ago, the things she said to me are coming back to me in clear lessons. Took a while for it to all sink in though.


It’s the ‘boundaries’ deal up in our face again.

Help but with boundaries.. or they will suck you down with them.

I have a hair dresser that is always asking to be paid before services rendered..and I have done so on occasion..

Then I had the opportunity to realize that she is continully shopping instead of paying her mortage.. or rent amount where she works..
she is always complaining, yet always blowing cash and she drives a status car..

So my eyes were opened up.. she doesn’t need to get real.. if others all always helping her out. and now with the economy as it is.. she is losing clients but still shops continually.. another client told me that she is about to be evicted and has asked her for I am expecting it.. and I will not.. I am going to suggest that she trades down her car.. or builds her business up.. all she seems to care about are ‘cute’ outfits and is ignoring reality.

This is just one example.. I have that kind heart also.. I have been helped in the past so help others.. but it can lead to us being ‘screwed’ over in all types of relationships.

common sense would say if you can’t take care of yourself DON’T bring a child into this world.. If you are on drugs, etc, DON’T bring a child into this world..
the ones with no sense are having the most children… this world is a mess…

Ox Drover

Dear Style,

I am glad that you are “getting it” with your hair dresser! I’ve seen this situation many times and “helped” out when I shouldn’t have, and no longer “help” in this kind of situation.

It took a long time for me to see how I was being “used” by various people in my circle, but have pared down that “circle” now and no longer allow myself to be bilked or used to assume responsibility for other’s lives. I also owned up to myself that I was ALLOWING this abuse, and resenting it totally, but so afraid of “hurting someone’s feelings” that I would not stand up for myself. I started setting boundaries, and when people crossed them I CONFRONTED them and set even stricter boundaries and if they crossed them again, they were OUT of my life. When I first started setting boundaires I was SO afraid I would hurt them or was being unreasonable I CRIED AND CRIED, but then as I practiced it got EASIER and easier.

Finally I had NO problem telling these people that I was NOT responsible for their problems and that I was NOT going to try to solve their problems that it was up to THEM to provide for themselves. DUH! Oh, you should have seen the twisting and turning and projecting and pity plays they tried and for the first time in my life, I stood firm and did NOT feel guilty the least bit! What a novel concept! I feel NO GUILT because YOU don’t take care of yourself and your own problems. !!!!!


I haven’t read the article, and maybe I should have before posting, but I did watch the video. I’m wondering if the babies are really not too young to understand the whole concept of right or wrong in this sense, although the majority of the time, they chose the “good guy” in the end. I can understand 2-3 years old, but these babies are just SO young!
This brings to mind something my pastor said….You don’t have to teach children to do bad, that is instinctive. We have to teach them right.

On another note entirely, just wondering if any of you that have S/P/N children, were there instances of them as young children, say around 3-5 years old, crying for no apparent reason? As I look back over my life and all that I have taken in in the last few months regarding these disorders, I can see where I may have had some traits myself. I was not always the nicest child and did some things that I can look back on and say WTH was I thinking? Point is, I wasn’t. After being married a second time and suffering through a clinical depression as a result of this marriage and circumstances, I sought counseling, and had a 180 degree turnaround. People I had known just a couple of years prior could not believe that I was the same person. But I seem to have gone to the opposite extreme and feel uber-empathic. Not a bad thing if one has found their boundaries. I thought I knew mine but they continue to be defined and refined.
My mom told me of some things her dad did that were not good, and when I became pregnant at 17, I was told that he was disappointed in me because I was always his favorite. Never heard it up until that point. But I get a creeped out feeling now, thinking that maybe I got some of his bad genes and maybe somehow there was a hint of recognition with me to him. What I have done with my life is a far cry from what he did, but I guess in a roundabout way, I’m asking if there might have been some connection to my dismal outlook as a young child where I would bawl for no apparent reason.


shana31 – not possible for anyone here to be able to say. given that you have empathy; i wouldn’t suspect so.

there are many reasons children cry – completely non spath children will use tears to manipulate; kids is FAS will cry in frustration; preemies will cry because their nervous systems get over amped; and kid’s living in dysfunctional homes will sometimes express the feelings of the whole household…there are SO many possibilities – these are just a few.

one step

Ox Drover

Dear Shana,

If you have made a 180 degree turn, I sincerely doubt that you were a “bad seed” LOL ((((hugs))) I think everyone has been a brat at one point or another, so don’t sweat it. What you are NOW is what is important and believe me Ps don’t do 180s!

I think one-step is right, kids cry for different reasons. I have a P-son, and he was really a great kid til about age 11, then one instance of theft and no more till puberty. Seemed to have empathy out the wazoo, but now is a cold blooded kiiller! Got there by age 20, and 19 years later is no better.

Just keep learning and traveling toward the light! I think you are going in the RIGHT direction!!! (((HUGS))))


hey it’s me Skyar
I don’t have much time to write. Yeah, it’s like I did a 360 degree turn, – or maybe 350 degrees. Figure it out I can’t write much. this article is very cloe to my thought today.


{{{Shana31}}} You’re not a “bad seed.” EVERYONE has a genetic predisposition to be narcissistic in a “normal” manner. There is a level of normal, healthy instict for self-preservation, and then there’s the malignant level of narcissism. While I was still involved in an environmental connection with the ex spath, I was VERY worried that I had become spath, as well. My emotions were very much turned inward. I would still “feel” the emotional expressions of others (joy, fear, sorrow, etc.,), but my personal responses to this were always hyper – I would SOB at funerals and SOB when I saw an animal on the side of the road. I believe that my responses to life, in general, were tempered by what I had experienced from the spath, and I was in self-preservation-mode, towards the end. (See the suicide threat on another thread)

As for noting red flags during childhood development – the spath son demonstrated a clear lack of remorse, early on. There were a few times that he expressed something in the way of “normal,” but not what I would term as reasonable – mind you, I’m NOT a trained or qualified professional, so my observations relate only to my personal experiences.

When people or animals were hurt or killed, spath son never expressed true sadness. As I said, there were occasions when he seemed to express something akin to “concern” or “shame,” but there was ALWAYS this undercurrent of hollowness. As he approached adolescence, I began to experience something that I can’t readily explain as well as I would like to: hugs, touches, words, eye contact, and all interactions began to give me the heegee beegees. My own son gave me the absolute creeps! For instance, if I would move to give him a hug for a job well done, his physical stance would alter to some degree, and there was a distinct lack of emotional connection – if that makes any sense, at all. Normally, when I embrace another empathetic human being, I feel a sense of emotional connection. Not so with spath son. And, the older he got, the more intense this aversion became. Eye contact was cold and empty – the lights were on, but nobody was home. His gaze was completely devoid of emotion of ANY sort, unless it was intense rage.

So, give yourself a break Shana31! Surviving spathy is a lifelong process, and each time we jump over a pothole in the healing path, we learn that we were prevented from evolving into the human beings that we were meant to be by spaths.

Brightest blessings, Shana31! OxD is right – you ARE moving in the right direction on the healing path!


Thanks for your comments one_step and OxD. I never felt like I was diagnosable, but I guess this whole situation has me going even deeper than my overanalytical mind usually goes. Sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse! 🙂


Buttons- I have to admit there were times I seemed like your son. There is a whole family dynamic thing that I won’t get into here, but maybe the chemical imbalance that was discovered at 33, had its roots in my childhood.
I have done a lot of introspection and analyzation since then, found myself, found God and like who I am, so I guess I will give myself a break! Thank you all so much.

super chic

@skylar, so it sounds like you went in a circle
and ended up almost right back where you started.
The same thing but with someone else?

super chic

heavenbound, if you’re out there, just wanted to say hi 🙂

Quantum Solace

I can attest to the veracity of this article. I have two children and saw them being born and evolve differently. My son has an incredible innate sense of right and wrong. He knew the difference since the day he was born. My daughter, however, was the complete opposite. Pointing out something she was done wrong was a great offense to her – just like it was to her father. They both felt that they had the right to screw up and the rest of the world had the obligation to deal with it and don’t you dare point that out! However, 13 years of being around such a inmoral, perverted, sick and twisted individual have even done its job on my son. Over time, he too lost the ability to tell right from wrong. It’s not so much that he is as self-righteous as his father and sister but that he simply doesn’t give a damn. What the poor little soul must have endured is unimaginable!


I’d love to see an article exploring the sense of morality in different species. (I know there have been some.) I truly believe it is not just humans how have this. THAT will be a huge breakthrough…when humans lose their arrogance about themselves compared with quite a few different species on various traits. Dr. Gay Bradshaw has done some work on this. Also studying PTSD and how it expresses itself in elephants, parrots, dolphins, etc.

Ox Drover

Dear Never,

I have a little cat that is an inside cat now, and after being an outside cat here on the farm for a couple of years and being a “lovie” sweet cat, my son C moved home with his two huge neutered male P-cats. They were so destructive I made him put them outside and they PERSECUTED my little outside cat until she was psychotic and paranoid. She left and went to live at a neighor’s place. We got her back, put her inside, neutered her and so on, and she has readjusted but she has PTSD, I swear it! I’ve watched her go through all the “changes’ of finally feeling SAFE again. She looks out the windows and through the screen doors but the outside is no longer “safe” for her in her mind (My son’s cats are gone now) but I don’t think she will ever feel “safe” outside again.

All animals are instinctive and each species is different but I think all animals (and that includes humans) have some sense of right and wrong, except for the few specimines that don’t. Sometimes that works FOR their survival and sometimes it doesn’t. We just have to learn to watch for the lack of empathy in other “human” animals.


I think he’s schizoid. He knows more about sociopaths and narcissism than your average person. We discuss it at length all the time. He’s been studying it at length for years in regards to ponerology and sociopathy in government. But then his behavior is bizarre and less than honest – he lies AND keeps secrets. But he’s not very good at either. If he were, then he’d be a sociopath.
The reason I can’t post very long is because I don’t have a lot of privacy and I don’t feel comfortable with him knowing that I post here. So when he walks in, I log out.



My 2 cats show more empathy and love than the P…it’s not like a right and wrong more what is most loving ….my cat senses when I am down and she will sit by me and if I put my hand down to pet her she licks it!
The P once said “you love those cats more than me” and it was true, my cats had more humanity than him!!!

Ox Drover

Dear Skylar,

And you are with this guy WHY?


I like him, for one.
He’s very interesting. super hi IQ. don’t feel comfortable discussing it online. wish I could, sorry.

super chic

@ skylar, well I can’t say you sound real happy about it.
Are you just with him to continue your research?


Dear skylar you said:

“I like him, for one.
He’s very interesting. super hi IQ. don’t feel comfortable discussing it online. wish I could, sorry.”

I am very concerned about the fact that you are uncomfortable writing about your obviously very nice likeable new acquaintance. Especially the fact that he has a high IQ 😉 ! (is he bragging about? Even “inadvertently” hinting to you WHAT A CATCH HE IS??)

My X has invented a new branch in Maths, my former boss was TOO HONEST to become professor (instead of him stupid ones got promoted…), and my father was a GENIOUS in being a lawyer, each of them were TOO humble to point out these facts DIRECTLY, but made hints so I could not help but notice what wonderful brains were talking to me. They are all highly toxic people for me, but made me having my jaw dropped at the time in awe that THEY were even noticing ME, and were allowed to put me down (as I was already way below them, it was a mere pointing to me my place in respect towards them, no PUT DOWN).

Please revise the list of April 12th this year; I am quite sure you will find him there 🙁 .The qualities each of them seem to point out to a perfect mate, but if it is ALL of it and TOO MUCH, then it is a big red flag. Take care! (((Hugs)))


If it SOUNDS too good to be true, it typically is.

Ox Drover

Dear Skylar,


I think he’s schizoid”

He LIES and keeps secrets”

I don’t have much privacy”

And he is “interesting,” WHY? You LIKE him WHY?

Come on sweetcakes, You know better than to play with FIRE! So why are you coming here and telling us you are messing with it? He doesn’t have to be a GOOD LIAR to be a psychopath. Some of them are pith poor liars!

You know I am blunt and you are right, I agree with you, you have come 360 degrees, back to messing with a psychopath.



Interesting men are alluring……lure as in bait, while you are gazing into his eyes he will be taking out one of yours…..hope not, hope you ok


Skylar….”He’s very interesting. super hi IQ.”

Honey…this does not sound right. First…high IQ…are you sure? Before I knew about sociopaths, I let my ex know my test score thru my local behavioral health program (for disabled adults looking for employment health). Mine were the highest they had ever tested for, and I was surprised and kind of proud…so were my social workers.

“Oh, yes…they told me that, too.” he said. I never questioned it. Why should I? I’m just an honest soul trying to better my life.

Now I look back, and HE WAS PARROTING ME. Be careful, please.


Oh, yeah. I had the computer print-outs in my hand…I never saw his. I would never think that he would LIE to me.



This seems to be an issue we have all dealt with. Mine said he only had one semester of college left and didn’t finish. I find out later that it was less than 2 years. Not really sure how much college he has had.

Also, spathy talks about how he has the best record in the company, don’t know if that’s true or not. Also he got in trouble with human resources and I’m not sure if the reason he told me was fact or fiction.

Really, if they continuously lie, something is wrong. It shows a pattern of behavior that is suspect. Hope we’re wrong about your new guy, but I don’t think so.


Hello? Sorry if i don’t post every damn day. If you had Aspergers and anxiety and depression and everyone ignored you because a regular poster wanted you to…’oh…you must forgive that this person raped you and raped your whole life and tried to destroy you and you must forgive’ does not fit in with your lovely everyday posting.

I will not forgive, and if you want to go tattle to Donna, so be it. Where else do I have to go? I have been so hurt and deceived, and i have no where else to go.

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