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Can a 5 year old be a psychopath?

This week while reflecting on the writings that most influenced my thinking about psychopathy/sociopathy, I received a letter from a mother of a five year-old boy whose father shows many signs of the disorder. She wrote:

Do you believe that children can show signs of being psychopathic? If so do you teach them to suppress the way they really feel by masking the problems with fake feelings? Can feelings of love really be learned? Just because someone on the outside appears like they have feelings does that mean inside they have actually changed? As you know they are good actors. The skill is learned very quickly to lie to blend in with the others. I bought your book off Amazon I should be getting it today. And i am also reading Dr. Hares book. I will try to look at your book some more today.

Shortly after my son’s father was arrested, I sat on my bed, with our seven month old baby asleep beside me, with the psychiatry DSM manual open to the page containing the criteria for “antisocial personality disorder”. I asked myself “do any of these criteria relate to common themes discussed in the child development literature.” I had to answer that question to know how best to mother my own child.

Interestingly, all the criteria mapped onto three developmentally acquired abilities: Ability to Love, Impulse Control, and Moral Reasoning. I then vowed I would read everything there was to read about each of these.

I started with Ability to Love. In my opinion the most important book about Ability to Love is Learning to Love by Harry Harlow, Ph.D. He is the scientist who demonstrated that a baby monkey clings to his mother out of pleasure in affection and “contact comfort” not because mother is a source of food. Prior to Dr. Harlow, scientists believed that the child learned to relate to his mother because she was associated with food.

The profound conclusion reached by Dr. Harlow’s research team is that babies are born to “learn to love” just like babies are born to learn language. We don’t come into the world talking but as our brains develop and we are exposed to language we learn to talk. Similarly, we don’t come into the world loving, but as our brains develop and we receive the right input we learn to love.

There are other interesting parallels between talking and loving including the observation that both are disordered in autism and both are influenced by genetics.
My world completely changed when I read page 44 of learning to love. It is on this page that Dr. Harlow discusses a very important developmental sequence. Ability to Love starts to develop before pleasure in aggression and competition sets in:

“The primary basis of aggression control is the formation of strong generalized bonds of peer love or affection… All primates, monkeys and men alike are born with aggressive potential, but aggression is a rather later maturing variable. It is obvious that a one year old suffers from fear and is terrified by maternal separation, but the child neither knows nor can express aggression at this tender age…This lack of aggression targets accounts in part for the fact that “evil emotion” culminates during the age-mate stage, long after peer affection and love have developed. It is the antecedent age-mate love that holds the fury of aggression within acceptable bounds for in group associates.”

Love starts to develop before aggression does, and has a head start in the race for the brain connections that form the basis of our values.

Now back to our 5 year old boy. I am very disturbed by the recent trend of referring to children as “psychopathic” in the scientific literature. Not that she does not describe symptoms of psychopathy, but to call a 5 year old psychopathic, negates the importance of learning to love and acts like it is an inborn ability.

I would say that this boy is learning disabled and requires extra help when it comes to learning to love. Just like speech therapy would help him if he couldn’t speak, love therapy will help him if he can’t love. Studies of autistic children show that a mother’s love makes a big differences for many severely affected children. Why shouldn’t we at least give this 5 year old the benefit of the doubt and give him love therapy.

Many studies show that the parents of at-risk children struggle with loving them. It is hard to love an impulsive child who goes after the cat with sharp tools. These parents are also harmed by suggestions that psychopathy is entirely genetic and firmly in place by age 3.

The focus on “discipline” also hurts these families because children need to learn to love. How can they learn to love if the people who are supposed to teach them are constantly yelling at them and scolding them or spanking them?

What is the answer?

An at-risk child is a full time job! Parents have to love that child 24/7 and not leave him alone to go to the kitchen to pick up the knife and go after the cat. Preventive positive parenting means waking up before the child, being there when he opens his eyes and saying, “I love you”. It means giving him hugs and kisses, playing and having fun together.


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227 Comments on "Can a 5 year old be a psychopath?"

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Thank you, Dr. Leedom.

I hope everyone with at risk kids find your work.

I find it absolutely heartbreaking when children are written-off.

Very true….

I knew something was wrong with my sons father when I was pregnant at 20-years-old. When I found out I was having a boy, I cried in fear, because I knew whatever was wrong with his father, it would be more prevalent in a male child. I gave my son tons of love and while he has some of his fathers personality traits I could certainly do without, inability to love, impulse control and a conscience don’t seem to be apparent at this time as he approaches 19.

When my son was just a year old, I was visiting with his fathers family on mothers day. My sons Aunt, his fathers sister, was there. She was with her 4-year-old son. Her 4-year-old wanted to be held by his mother, he was trying every-which-way to get close to her. She brushed him off on every single attempt, and finally, she just pushed her 4-year-old to the floor and yelled at him. I was appalled. That boy grew up to be closest to my sons father. He emulated him at all times. While this 4-year-old is now approaching 22, he has the same twisted mentality I have seen from the rest of the family. I stay away from him (the whole family really) because he has no respect for other people.

It also made me think of something else…..My sons father’s mother, (the original sociopath in the blood line as far as I can tell) she told me how she used to hug and kiss on my sons father all the time when he was little. When I spoke with my sons father about this he related that it bothered him because, he recounted that this was affection that was turned on and off. It was for company. He admitted that it was because he was thought of as a possession to be controlled. So, as an adult, when women wanted to hang on him, in public etc, he typically felt that it was a power play to control him, and therefore, did not participate in these displays of affection. (then again – a sociopath told me this story, so it could be a lie- LOL)

This is an illness with so many forks in the road that can’t be counted. Move too much this way and you bring out a personality trait. Too little and you get the whole shi-bang.

To be honest…until I see my son is a fully functioning and independent adult, I will have a bit of worry, a bit of fear every single day. I worry sometimes that there is a sociopath just beneath the surface that is hiding from sight. Wow….don’t feel much like a conveyor of hope…..I did the best I knew how…He is very sweet, very loving..he can’t even play mad – he can’t get that “acting skill’ out. He is as thoughtful as any other 18-year-old and just a nice kid. I think I did ok….but only time will tell.

Excellent post Dr. Leedom especially the “answer” part.

Dr. Leedom, this is a question that I struggle with. My P son seemed so loving and positive attention seeking, that compared to my ADHD child that I had to monitor carefully for his own safety, that I actually thought my (later to be shown Psychopathic) son was the “ideal child.” He was my “shining star.” Only at age 11 did I see what NOW would have been a “bad sign” when he stole something and even though the other child who was involved and that child’s parents and I confronted my P-son, he DENIED, DENIED, DENIED even in the face of total evidence, then became enraged that he had been punished, and ran away from home. When I brought him back home after several very worrisome hours, he looked at me with rage in his eyes and told me he would do it again and the he knew I couldn’t watch him 24/7. He was RIGHT, I couldn’t! Which terrified me.

After that though, he seemed to be back to his old “Peter perfect” self, never any trouble, did well in school, loved by his peers and his teachers, a “perfectly wonderful” child again. It was only in his teen aged years that he morphed into “Mr. Hyde” and started his criminal and violent activities. For a while he kept these activities secret from us but became enraged and violent when confronted with the truth of his activities.

I look back over my parenting, which was as a “single parent” part of the time, but at the same time, I realize that I put my parenting duties ahead of about anything else, including career, and my activities were “family oriented” with camping, and many many activities WITH my children. After my divorce even when I started dating it was a “family affair” and most “dates” were actually spent with my kids doing outdoor things along with my “date” or in group activities of adults with children.

What is totally confusing to me is how can a child that appeared to be so loving and kind and caring, suddenly morph into a monster at puberty? I’ve seen lots of kids who were simply “unbearable” during their teen aged years but it DIDN’T last long. I laugh now, looking back at my next door neighbor’s son who at 11 was my favorite kid in the neighborhood, he was WONDERFUL, but at 15 I wanted to strangle the narcissistic and egocentric little twirp! (so did his very patient mother, too!) LOL But by the time he was 18, he was back to “human” again and is today a wonderful example of a family man. I actually thought that my P-son was just pulling a “Richard” and would (if I could be patient enough and keep him from doing something horrible and life-ruining before he reached adulthood,) be fine. But by the time he was 17 he had a criminal record, and by 18 was in prison for a felony. Within 5 months of his release on parole, he was back in prison (like the old C&W song “he turned 21 in prison”) for murder and is there today. (18 1/2 years in prison this time). Before I went NC with him a few years ago he was in the “craft shop” and is an expert boot maker (some of his hand made western boots sold for $2500 a pair) He made me a pair of boots for Christmas and on the back of the shafts in red snake skin, inlaid, it says “Mama” on one boot and “tried” on the other. LOL His little bit of gallows humor.

I wish I knew the answer to the question — I have seen ten year olds that were so “conduct disordered” that I think they were out of the realm of “savable” even with good therapy. So where the point is that there is no more “hope” for these children is—where the inability to absorb love begins or ends, I don’t know. I do know that if a child doesn’t receive bonding and nurturing (any child) that at some point it is like their ability to “absorb” it is turned off. Just like if a baby lamb doesn’t get colostrum by 36 hours, the stomach is no longer able to absorb the immune globulin, and it will die because it has no immunity without the immune globulin from it’s mother’s first milk.

As someone who has been around a child with sociopathic tendencies who had a clueless family, I’m glad to read that this mother is not clueless. At least she is considering the possibility her child is at risk of developing a character disorder.

I suggest the woman base her expectations of the child on behaviors. She should not judge her child and find him/her wanting based on what she imagines the child feels or does not feel. We cannot know with any degree of certainty what anyone feels. It’s evil to discount someone’s feelings, just because we are so arrogant that we imagine we KNOW they don’t have them. (I’ve got a hearing impaired child. An amazing number of adult educators have treated him like dirt because they “KNEW” he was autistic and people didn’t matter to him. They were dead wrong. There’s nothing wrong with the boy’s brains or his emotions, just his ears.)

If the parents and cargivers would kindly state their objectives for the child in REAL, TANGIBLE behaviors, then they could formulate an appropriate plan to alter the child’s behavior.

I suggest a system of clear communication, firm boundaries and consistent rewards. These tactics almost always work.

Dr. Leedom, if someone needs to be told to spend time showing affection and playing with their children, I doubt there’s much hope. The idea it needs to be said at all simply boggles my mind.

I don’t agree that love is only an emotion. I think it’s also a way of behaving. The woman is worrying about what cannot be measured or controlled, the child’s feelings, when she should be concerned about what she can measure and alter, the child’s behavior.

Just as bravery is doing the right thing in spite of being afraid, the highest expressions of love involve sacrifice for the well being of others when feelings of love are not present to make the acts easier.

If this woman is going to deny the value of what the child does, because of her subjective opinions about the child’s inner life, I don’t see a good outcome here. The potential for harm here is unacceptably high.

I cannot say with sufficient vehemence that discounting the emotions of a child is a grave attack on the child’s sanity. This idea of valuing what she imagines she knows, the child’s feelings, over what she can observe, the child’s behavior, makes absolutely no sense.

If it were practical to value the child’s unknown emotions over the child’s observable behavior, than it would be sufficient for the woman to sit around at a distance “feeling love”, without ever expressing her love to the child in word or deed.

The child smiles and gives his/her mother a hug. The woman responds….

How does she respond, doubting the child’s sincerity as she apparently does? If she responds lovingly, is she modeling sincerity? If she responds punitively to correct what she perceives as the child’s insincerity, is she correct in presuming maternal omniscience, or is she being abusively capricious?

Just as this woman’s love will not effect her child unless she puts it into action, this child’s emotional life cannot be nurtured unless significant value is placed on how the child behaves, rather than how the mother imagines the child feels.

This lady’s imagination cannot be allowed to trump any and all attempts the child makes to please.

Dear Dr. Leedom,

Thank you for your response. I sit here and still, after over two decades of “wondering,” still shake my head and wonder, “what the heck happened?” I’ve been close to so many teenagers that when they had hit puberty (or as my step father would have said, “fool’s hill”) were simply “insufferable” for several years. Yet those same “insufferable” teenagers became wonderful adults in only a few years. I’ve seen children who were horribly abused become loving adults, and I’ve seen children “well parented” who became criminals (not just my own son).

The more I look at parenting styles the more I come to the conclusion that so much of what a person “becomes” is determined by something we don’t know what it is. Even the “best” of parenting doesn’t guarentee a “good” outcome and even the “worst” of parenting doesn’t guarentee a “bad” outcome.

Thanks again, Dr. Leedom for your support. God bless you!

Elizabeth: I was involved with a man whose behavior was very correct. He was loving, kind, and upstanding citizen. He was ambitious, but he was a spiritual leader, working in a 12-step program. He wanted to help others, and he encouraged me to help others by employing the skilled, but struggling, people in the 12-step program. He was a loving father who had been blindsided by the divorce papers from his unloving wife.

HE WAS A CON MAN!!!!! His behavior was perfect. HE WAS A CON MAN WHO TOOK EVERYTHING I HAD including what I didn’t even know I had to lose. THE WHOLE TIME WAS A COMPLETE CHARADE!!!

You say, “I suggest a system of clear communication, firm boundaries and consistent rewards. These tactics almost always work.” NO THEY DON’T!!!

(I AM SCREAMING!!! because this is wise and obvious counsel that is correct UNLESS YOU ARE DEALING WITH A CERTAIN MINORITY OF THE POPULATION THAT IS PROFOUNDLY DANGEROUS!!!! I KNOW!!! I have several examples. One I knew as a child.

Those tactics are very effective for teaching a pathological liar how to more effectively CON PEOPLE!!! And traditional discipline, with a psychopathic individual, may create further obstinacy or a quiet plan to later take REVENGE!!!

Not every psychopath is a nasty, violent, verbally or emotionally abusive individual. THE LONG CON LOOKS VERY DIFFERENT!!!

Take a look again at Oxy’s story — her P son turned back into “the model boy” for awhile, before he showed his true self.

I’ll just bet that Oxy did all the loving parenting things you would expect, including discipline, regularity, limits and love. For all we know, her tactics saved her other children, but couldn’t save that one.

I don’t deny the value of the traditional wisdom, but that is not all there is to this.

Oxy, we share some similar pain. My heart goes out to you.

Rune,

I think Oxy hit it on the head when she said:

Even the “best” of parenting doesn’t guarentee a “good” outcome and even the “worst” of parenting doesn’t guarentee a “bad” outcome.

The hard truth is that there is no one strategy or tactic that works. Every single situation is unique. Your example shows that even people that know or are “educated” about psychopaths can still be taken in by them because they usually do not show up as psychopaths until later.

I would also want to say that there are differences when talking about an adult to an adult relationship and a parent to a child relationship, especially when talking about a 5 year old. If someone assumes a child is psychopathic and treats them that way it can lead to them having all sorts of issues.

And when EC said:

Just as this woman’s love will not effect her child unless she puts it into action, this child’s emotional life cannot be nurtured unless significant value is placed on how the child behaves, rather than how the mother imagines the child feels.

This lady’s imagination cannot be allowed to trump any and all attempts the child makes to please.

She was absolutely right. And the system she spoke of in regards to using it for raising a 5 year old child are correct as well.

Happy Easter, Everyone. I think that ultimately the answers will never be known for certain until we develop weird science like a truth and love implant that makes the Sp’s capable of feeling and incapable of telling lies. Even when we question them, study them, profile them, the best we can hope for is some prediction of what is probable. We know they lie so even cooperation and disclosure could be full of BS when coming from them. I know my ex was a horrible child. Totally arrogant, violent, a killer of a pet without a show of remorse because the pet and I quote, “I broked his neck cuz he didn’t minded me” this at three. And this story and the fact that he set his mom’s bed on fire with her in at the age of 5 are told at family get togethers with the wasn’t he such a horrid child laugh, laugh. I think parenting plays a huge role. Not the whole role, but a large portion. I don’t know that good parenting will prevent anything, but I’m certain that horrid parenting will increase the odds of a bad outcome. The message that the child is just evil, Haha, never holding the child responsible for his behavior, will guarantee a bad outcome.

This is such a good discussion, though, of course I don’t think we will ever come to an OBJECTIVE CONCLUSION, as the entire situation is SUBECTIVE. It would be nice if we could come up with an objective 1-2-3 formula for parenting though.

I keep thinking back to my egg donor’ls brother, Uncle Monster. At age 7 he didn’t like this new thing that took up his mother’s attention, and had every intention of killing and/or torturing “it” (my egg donor). His mother discovered him (in time) to save her daughter’s life, but protected him from his father finding out and he continue to torture his little sister by smothering her until she became unconscious for 7 years, AND hiding this fact from his father. He knew apparently by age 7 that there would be no consequences except a slight verbal scolding from his mother, but knew that his father would warm his pants if he knew, so he was savy enough to AVOID the consequences.

If his mother had “told on” him and his father had warmed his pants at age 7,, the behavior might have stopped, but the DESIRE to kill or harm his little sister would, I don’t think, have stopped. I firmly believe that by age 7 Uncle Monster’s attitudes and entitlement as well as his malevolent nature were SET IN CONCRETE.

A discussion I had with a hired hand the other day comes to mind just now. My pasture renter has about 25 or 30 weanling calves here. Barbed wire fences, as I told the hired hand, are simply SUGGESTIONS to cattle to stay in one area. They are not really BARRIERS of any strength. Because he had bought these calves (recently deprived of their mothers) over here and just dumped them out in a very large pasture, they had gone through the fences in a frenzy of searching for their mothers and their homes.

We had rounded them up and put them back, fixed the fences, etc. but they then repeatedly got out through the fences because they had learned that fences were NOT barriers, but simply “suggestions” and they now more or less roam at will….into my yard, on to the air strip, etc.

They were TAUGHT that they can go through fences if they are determined enough and now they can not be “untaught” this, unless you put them into a fence made of STEEL (like a pipe corral) i.e. “jail” which will contain their BEHAVIOR, but not their DESIRES.

If the hired had had put them into my corral (which is more secure than a barbed wire fence, but still isn’t a pipe fence) for a few days before turning them out into the “big world” of barbed wire fences, they would have been able to settle down, calm down, forget about their mamas and would never have tried to go through the barbed wire fences, they would have respected the “suggestion” of the barbed wire fences to stay on the side they were put. Even their desires to roam would have been quelched, I think. But at least their BEHAVIOR would have been different.

I wonder sometimes if our children are not “trained” and their attitudes changed by the social “fences” that are put around them and the ones that they break through (either openly or secretly) without consequences.

The calves were “rewarded” every time they got through the fences with lush spring greens on the other side, which they much prefered to the hay they had on their side of the fence (Yea, I know, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! LOL) so even being drive back into the pasture with the dog was not enough of a consequence to undo or overcome the “reward” that they got by breaking through.

Since cattle are, believe it or not, about as smart as asses, there will NEVER be a way to break them from being “breechy” (the term for a bovine that will not respect fences).

The bottom line in all this “lesson in bovine behavior” is it makes me wonder about human behavior as well. About psychopathic behavior because, like the steers, the psychopath sees no advantage in staying behind the “fences” and great advantage in going through them, and NEVER CONNECTS THE PUNISHMENT/CONSEQUENCES WITH THE CRIME.

Wow Oxy, That makes so much sense. His Mom turned his crib over upside down like a little jail cell to contain him as a toddler because he would climb out of the crib and wander the street with a river out front or get into stuff in the kitchen and even turn on the stove burners. Just a handful and smacking his behind would make him laugh. His Mom says, but it is always Haha, that he would so wear out her nerves that she would hand cuff him to a chair and sit in it til his Dad got home and again popping him didn’t help. He loves the challenge since criminal past was more about taunting the cops and getting away with stuff than the actual score from the crime itself.It often talked of really missing that high that comes from beating others by getting over on them and making them look stupid. Of course all this confessional talk was after I had said, “I do.” But he can say the most heinous things in a way with such charm that you buy into his excuses.

Dear Joy,

My P-son gets his “thrill” I thinkk mainly out of “putting it over” on someone. I am his CHIEF person he likes to “put one over on” but he loves doing it to the cops, my egg donor, his brother C (I think C is #2 choice because he has been jealous of C since he was a teenager at least, maybe before that I don’t know.) Because he IS so smart, it gives him fun to make others appear “dumb”—actually, the funny thing is that he has never even been much of a “success” in getting away with things, but he scores a POSITIVE stroke for each success, and never acknowledges the NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES, so it is always a WIN-WIN situation for him, just like for the calves getting through the fence.

My P son also crawled out of his crib by 12-13 months and apparently had been doing it at night and then CRAWLING BACK INTO IT so I had no idea he was out wandering around the house while we all slept until one night I caught him, and then it “jelled” in my mind why things had been “moved around” during the night which I couldn’t account for until I saw my toddler had crawled out of his crib and gotten on the conunter, gotten a loaf of bread and was toasting it on the space heater and feeding it to the dog which sat there attentively waiting. How he managed to not get SERIOUS burns on his little hands I do not know! He was quite physically precocious after he learned to walk though, which continued on into adulthood. My husband believed he had the best hand/eye cordination he had ever seen in one of his students—even at an early age like 7 or 8 he was an instinctive marksman with a gun or a bow and by his teen-aged years he was outstanding. He was also an instinctive pilot (and his fearlessness didn’t hurt any) and an excellent car driver (but reckless as well with a car, but not with a plane). My older non-P son was clummsy from the get go and how he never killed himself with his climbing and running I will never know. He HAS, though, developed good or at least adequate cordination though now and is no longer accident prone, and is a good and safe driver, though he was 25 or 30 before he acheived that.

Your X does sound a lot like my P-son in his glee at “putting one over on Joey” because mine just loves to match wits with the guards at the prison. I imagine he probably numerically gets away with more than he gets caught, though I know of 19 times in 20+ years he has gotten caught on SERIOUS rules infractions, including a smuggled cell phone which he had installed inside of an electric razor in such a way that the phone was inside, charging, but it looked like the razor was charging. Even then, they didn’t find the sim chip. He had apparently had it for several years by the time it was discovered though.

One of the correction officer majors said to me when I went to visit him and pick up his craft shop tools and materials “he’s a regular little electronic genius isn’t he?” I said, “Yep, he’s that all right!” For that little feat, he spent several weeks in solitary confinement, lost his craft shop priviledges, was transferred to a different prison, was also taken off “minimum custody” for a year, and other sanctions, but they did not slow him down for a second. It was shortly after this episode that I went NC with him, and the “Trojan HOrse” Psychopathic ex cell mate of his rented a house from me and infiltrated our family. That particular “con” had to have been set up months or years in advance, just waiting for his buddy to get off parole. One thing my little “darling” is is patient, even as a small child, his patience in working on something was amazing to behold. While most kids have no patience with fishing for example, if they don’t get a bite in 5 minutes, they are gone doing something else, but he would sit with a pole for HOURS at age 6 or 7 and never get a bite, but hold on to “I’m just about to get a bite” when you dragged him “kicking and screaming” (not literally) away from the water after he had sat there all day and it was bedtime! I’ve never seen that kind of patience in any small child on a fishing trip and it was consistent.

I have plenty of “ha ha” stories about my ADHD son’s antics, but they were NEVER EVER MEAN, and he was never defiant or disrespectful. He just had to be watched to keep him from things that were too far above his ability levels to be safe. At the time they happened they weren’t always funny (at least until they were over) but in retrospect, with everything turning out “okay” they are definitely funny!

After my P-son started his serious antics, though, there is NOTHING FUNNY about his conduct or his thinking! A serious waste to humanity of a man with a superior intellect, that, who knows what he could have accomplished for mankind, if he hadn’t become a monster instead. I’m just glad that neither you nor I are still “brainwashed” by these monsters in human form. TOWANDA!!!!!

Joy’s comment reinforces my statements: “a killer of a pet without a show of remorse because the pet and I quote, “I broked his neck cuz he didn’t minded me.”

To me, that shows a child with a warped perception who had been shown discipline, and had translated that discipline into “permission” to punish the pet “cuz he didn’t minded me.”

This is precisely the concern I have about dealing with a strong-willed at-risk child, because the very tools that work well with most children to set boundaries (whether steel-pipe fences or barbed wire, to use Oxy’s analogy) can somehow become exactly the WRONG example for the child whose possibly genetically “different” brain will twist the information around to create the OPPOSITE effect.

EC says, “I cannot say with sufficient vehemence that discounting the emotions of a child is a grave attack on the child’s sanity.”

I respectfully suggest that it IS the SANITY of the child that is in question — relative to the child’s ability to integrate normally into the values of society down the line. I would NEVER advocate turning away a child’s loving response or “for the woman to sit around at a distance “feeling love”, without ever expressing her love to the child in word or deed.” That is patently absurd.

However, I think the mother is rightly cautious, especially if she feels that the child may be learning manipulative tricks, turning on and off the affection, becoming more and more adept at faking what others want him to fake.

I encourage parents to nurture and love their children with authenticity, to set limits, model good behavior, and reward behavior that supports a healthy society. Every one of us who has come to this site, however, knows that the sociopathic can present very “presentable” behavior, while having a completely different agenda.

Different children respond differently to typical parenting tools. With an at-risk child, I believe that the mother’s additional attention to the possibility of the child having a different perception and agenda is VERY appropriate. Her attention, observation and responsiveness at this early age may be the best chance for the child to grow into a normal and safe-to-be-around adult.

I have been reading this blog from time to time as I am struggling with my son who is 16 years old and has developed some disturbing personality traits during the past year and a half.
When my son was young he experienced a tramatic event and I knew that he might have problems at some point in his life. The extent or type of problems he might experience where unknown to me.
Most of what I have read here deals with adult relationships with sociopaths. And how so many are broken and shattered by lies and manipulation by the end of these relationships.

However when reading about children it is very confusing to me as so much judgement seems to be projected onto the parent. What people don’t seem to understand is that when these personality traits come out in a young teenager it is very difficult for a parent to even comprehend that they are dealing with a “child”. Effective parenting becomes impossible. My son gets VERY angry when he is confronted about anything. He expects people to believe his lies. He retaliates if he is grounded for an action and he lies and manipulates more, not less if he is punished for anything. And I am not talking about REGULAR teenage retaliation here. I am talking about major manipulation and constant and consistant lies. He always makes the situation to be a win/win situation for himself.
As a young child he was different than he is today. Being loving and nurturing towards him wasn’t something one had to think about. Now I seem to have to THINK about every interaction I have with him.
I might have known that my son was going to experience some problems in his life because of the loss of his father but in my worst nightmare I never imagined he would have the kind of problems we are experiencing now.
It is something that is very hard to articulate and I would suppose if you can’t relate to it because it is something you haven’t experienced it would be impossible to understand. I DON’T understand it and I live with it.
This isn’t your normal parent/adolescent relationship. The rules do not apply to him, just as they don’t apply to an adult with this kind of personality deficency. When boudaries are set with a teenager and they cross those boundaries there should be consequence. This doesn’t work. Confrontation doesn’t work.

I have seen very little information on this site or any other that I have found of HOW to parent a teenager with these difficult personality disorders. I know it is my responsibility as a parent to prepare my son to enter the real world. But he doesn’t live in the real world (he seems to believe his own lies & has his own version of what reality is) and I would like to hear more information on how other parents have delt with this kind of situation.

witsend,

Ox Drover is one smart lady, and I believe she’s got some experience with this.

I don’t. All I can suggest is that counseling for both of you may be helpful. A professional or team of professionals may have some really good ideas. I’d look within the context of what you can afford, and what you understand and trust. If a Christian Counselor through your church is someone you’d be comfortable with, go that route. If you’d rather start with a Psychiatrist, go there. School counselors can be good resources for some families. Start with the type of professional help you’re likely to feel comfortable with.

Never forget that you’re in charge. In the end, parents usually know their children best. Get help, but be prepared to reject the help and seek a better solution set if the help isn’t helpful. Don’t let supercilious professionals intimidate you into egregiously dumb parenting. You can’t put your wits in their keeping. The responsibility and authority of parenthood are both yours.

I say this because I’ve had challenges in my 12 years of parenting also. My children have both been seriously ill, and both of their educations have been difficult. Both the best and the worst advice has come from highly trained professionals. As the parents, my husband and I have had to weigh all the advice, then make the tough calls. If we hadn’t said “No way!” about 80% of the time, our kids would still be seriously ill and badly educated, not to mention emotionally ill. Nothing has stiffened my spine like parenting. It’s not a job for doormats.

The disorienting part about the experience is that these helping professionals often see themselves as authorities. They tend to express their advice in terms of imperatives and directives. You have to both act on your love for your child and remain rational, or you’ll find yourself merely along for the ride. It’s a balancing act. That being said, good help is out there. You just have to be a cagey consumer.

I’m 10 minutes late starting our morning Literature lesson, so I’ve got to get to work. I wish you well. What you’re facing is very difficult.

Oxdrover do you have any suggestions for me? I believe myself to be a rational, logical, THINKING person. However in the past I have tried logic, reasoning, positive reinforcement, negative consequences…. I have over thought this if anything and I got “nothin” at this point. My sons behaviour isn’t rational. He tends to live in his own little world and that is where he stays. He isn’t out there breaking the law. But do I think he is capable of such actions….You bet I do. If something PRODUCTIVE isn’t done to chance the course of him now while he is still young, I believe he is headed down a slippery slope….
Yet I don’t believe he is just a “troubled” teenager. I know it is much more than that. His brain does not think or react like a normal 16 year old. His troubles are deeper than just on the surface.

My decisions and parenting through this period, since my son has shown this disturbing personality traits hasn’t worked. I know that. I don’t know what to do anymore. I have backed off from trying to parent him in the way of “action/consequence”. I have backed off from confronting him on his never ending lies. However I also feel that by not confronting the lies I am condoning them, so in essence I don’t feel like I am parenting him at all. I am picking my battles so carefully only to step in when it seems absolutely necessary to the point of me not feeling like I am doing my job as a parent. However when I don’t back off and I do confront him or have normal expectations of him, things escalate so quickly that he is like a time bomb waiting to explode.
He is currently going to counceling but I don’t have good insurance and the councelor that he is seeing is not the best. At this point I would have to say that I am not sure if he isn’t doing more harm than good. After a looong struggle with this councelor I finally got him to refer my son for an evaluation to the psyciatrist. He put my son on medication and now my son refuses to take the medication.

I can’t even for sure say if the medication was going to help in the long run….But I would say that it seemed to take a little of the edge off of his MAJOR irritability. Maybe with more time on the meds that could have improved. I am unsure if the meds had enough time to make any more improvement or if that was even possible.

I know that sounds irrational even to me….Well how can he refuse to take his medications? Your the parent. You require him to take them.
See that works with kids you CAN reason with. That works when your child has a healthy respect that you are the parent and they are the child. That works when boundaries are present.
I am sure the only reason he is refusing to take them to begin with is because he knows I want him to take them and give them a chance.

My son is currently flunking every subject in school. He blames the teachers. No accountability on his part. After many sessions with his counscelor going over this school issue with my son and myself (I was present during these sessions) My sons counscelor and I were talking privately and I told him my fear that if my son flunked this year (sophmore) he wouldn’t return. In our state he can quit at 16 WITHOUT parental consent. He said well…..(in a condensending manner) You have rules, if hes not going to school then he has to work and have a job. I am like LIVID at this point with this counscelor because if I can’t keep him in school how in the world does he think I can make sure he has a job? Forget the fact that in this economy who even wants to hire a 16 yr old drop out. BUT I am almost speachless at this point because we had spent many months (in counsceling) going over the PROBLEM of the lack of my son following the “rules” at home. I had told this man numerous times that this IS the problem with my son. Grandious behaviour. The rules don’t apply to him. Not at school, not at home.

Is there any kind of parenting that is productive at his age? What has been known to be effective?

“I am almost speechless at this point because we had spent many months (in counseling) going over the PROBLEM of the lack of my son following the “rules” at home. I had told this man numerous times that this IS the problem with my son. ”

You really need Ox Drover. All I can do is sympathize.

When a helping professional’s advice proves impractical, assumptions of parental negligence, incompetence and even abuse are frequent. You are far from the first exhausted and frustrated parent to have to deal with this lack of support.

It’s par for the course when your child is seriously ill, injured or misbehaving. See if you can find a support group. Only parents who are there or have been there are likely to understand. You can make it without confidants, but they do make things easier.

There are often support groups for the family members of mentally ill people. I’m sorry to imply that your son is mentally ill, but I think there are some corollaries here. The family members of mentally ill adults often solve problems like getting patients to take their medications. It’s tremendously helpful to have contact with people who have been in the same boat, or close to it.

I can empathize with you here, because I’ve had to pick my way through “professional advice” to select the most viable options. Along the way I’ve taken my share of flak.

When professional advice isn’t working, helping professionals often continue to restate their useless advice. Sometimes it’s because they’re dumber than stumps but often it’s because they’ve assumed that you’re not applying their advice. They begin to attach the blame for the child’s problems to you. It’s easy to start to wonder if they’re right, or to wonder if there’s no viable solution to the problem. This whole routine is an unproductive distraction. Once a helping professional starts to play this game, you can safely assume this particular person is out of good options. Find someone else, or a string of someone else’s. Don’t give up.

I have been reading back some of your post oxdrover and sometimes there are things in those post that just tear into my heart….I may not be a highly educated professional and I might not be ALOT of things but I do have alot of common sense and I do have great sense of intuition that has never let me down in the past. This might be the ONLY things I do possess right now that I have any confidence in. I am not feeling much confidence in my parenting skills right now and I question most everything now before I do it.

In my quest for information on personality disorders I came upon lots of information via the internet. I knew before I even came upon information of all the disorders out there that my son didn’t just fall into the “basic” troubled teen category. I knew that already in my heart and had been in denial about the underlying problem for awile before I was able to FACE it. I wanted to think he was just “lashing out” at me and flunking school was his way of doing that. so I focused on the school issue and ignored for a time his troubling personality traits. The lying, the manipulation, the passing blame, the lack of reality, the grandious thinking, and so much more.

He is to young to be labeled for any of the disorders and TRUTHFULLY I don’t even want him to be labeled…..I still would like to have HOPE that whatever his problems are they are cureable/treatable.
The problem that I have had so far in this quest for information is that so much of the medical defining of these disorders seems stereotyped. I tend to believe the spectum of these disorders are broader and can’t be so black and white. And again much of what I read is how ADULTS with this disorder are in relationships etc.

When oxdrover said in an above blog about when her son was caught with another boy and he denied, denied denied….I can relate to that. doesn’t matter if they are caught RED HANDED if they say it didn’t happen in their MINDs it didn’t happen. And if you punish them for something they believe didn’t happen you will see some major ANGER projected at you. However my son also portrays a personality full of contradictions. He can also be caught red handed in a lie and not have any reaction…..This can be more disturbing to me than the denial. Denial is at LEAST a reaction. It is what you expect when you catch someone at something… For them to at leat react to it. My son can also be non reactive as if it never happened. Even though you are right there in the MOMENT it just DID happen and now you caught him at it and he will act like he never did/or said what just transpired? This is where I can only describe him as living in his own reality rather than in the real world. BUT when you live with this on a daily basis it messes with your OWN sense of reality and can tend to distort your own reality as well after awile. What really did just happen? To me it is a form of “subtle” type manipulation. I have no other way to explain it.
Can anyone relate to this even though I might not articulate it well?

” I can only describe him as living in his own reality rather than in the real world. BUT when you live with this on a daily basis it messes with your OWN sense of reality and can tend to distort your own reality as well after awhile. What really did just happen? To me it is a form of “subtle” type manipulation. I have no other way to explain it.
Can anyone relate to this even though I might not articulate it well?”

You articulate it just fine. Yes, most of us can. We’ve lived it when we’ve coped with various cluster Bs. (Anti Social, Narcissistic, Histrionic or Borderline) Don’t worry about this commonality too much. Teen agers can be totally crazy-making and still turn out fine.

Like you, I’m reluctant to label your son. Many people DO snap out of it around 25.

Parenting requires faith. You do it the very best you can, and things will PROBABLY turn out OK. No guarantee! Doubt and fear will make you crazy if you let it.

One of the smartest things you can do is to seek a support network. Most of the people on this board start posting quite late in the day and go until far into the night. You’re stuck with me right now ’cause I get up before 5 AM and “fall down go snore” around 9 PM.

I look forward to reading the responses you’ll have later in the day and into the evening. There are some really capable, kind, supportive people here.

I’m headed for the Zoo now. Today, tomorrow and Wednesday are “light” homeschooling days here at Casa Conley. The kids are enjoying a bit of fun with their public schooled friends.

Blessings!

Case in point: An example…Yesterday my son had his last day of Spring Break. He had 12 missing assignments that he was suppose to do for ONE class over break. He said he would do these both to myself and to the teacher at a conference we had with her before break.
He had to get these done before he could have his “own” free time, computer time.
Sooo He said me that he did 4 more of these assignments on the computer and forwarded to his teacher yesterday and even gave me the specific assignments to write down. Because he didn’t have his book home the assignments were on edline (online) to begin with so this just “fed into” his story…
Of course I emailed his teacher today to see if he had done them because seeing as they were not done on “paper” I have no way of knowing for sure without asking her. He did NOT send her these assignments nor the ones he claimed to do the day before. I was pretty sure I was being lied to when he told me that but he had DONE a project assignment that involved a poster for this class 2 days before during break so I wasn’t 100% sure if he was lying.
Now every bone in my body wants to take that computer away from him and ground him until EVERY one of those assignments are done on paper that he can SHOW me.
But I have done this in the past and I will get no results as far as the work getting done. Instead of taking the twenty minutes to actually fly through the papers and get them done he will be angy and volitle for DAYS on end . He will refuse to go to school tomorrow or refuse to go to see his counscelor (he has an appointment tomorrow), or whatever else he can think of???? Whatever the case may be he WON’t just sit down and do the work to put this behind him and get his privledges back.

How does a parent effectively deal with these situations with a teenager?
I know my son is mentally ill. I take no offense to that. But this is a no win situation as a parent because these “kids” do not react to a parent having control of a situation as the average kid would. Its not just a case of oh…lets say a little back talk because they are grounded. HE WANTS to WIN just like an adult with this kind of disorder would and he will win at any cost.

Because I do know that I can’t possibly be the only parent that has delt with these challenges in a mentally ill teenager…Thats why I am asking these questions. Last time I did ground my son from the computer it became very close to a physical confrontation. He is not going to take no for an answer and if need be he will bully me physically. I can see that in his eyes.

I would love to go to a support group of parents who have delt with these types of issues but no of none in my area. I live in a small town and the bigger cities are pretty far away.

Dear Witsend,

My heart goes out to you my dear! I have been there and unfortunatelly, my story did not have a “happy ending” where my P son was/is concerned.

I suggest that you look at Dr. Leedom’s site about parenting the at risk kids.

Is his father in the picture? How old is he? There are 1000 questions I could ask and still not know all I would want to know about your son. Like how long has this been going on etc. What are other stressors in his life?

First off, I do think he needs PROFESSIONAL THERAPY. and YOU need professional therapy to help you in dealing with this. It is a heart breaking, frustrating, and long term situation. It takes it “out” of YOU and you need to take care of yourself as well.

Do you have other children? How are they doing?

As for him bullying you physically, the ONLY thing you can do about that is to turn to either the law or inpatient therapy. You must NOT let him bully you physically. YOu must set limits for him that you CAN enforce.

I’m not sure what your son’s diagnosis would be, and frankly, that needs to be done with a professional. Maybe you could arrange some of this through the school. Someitmes schools will pay for this and arrange for it. I think it is at a stage where you are going to need some professional help.

Feel free to come here and blog, ask questions and READ. Knowledge is power. Being here is very healing as well, because you are NOT alone. There are those of us here (I am not the only one) who have kids that were/are psychopaths. So we have walked in your shoes. I hope that is NOT the diagnosis for your son, but if it turns out to be, it is something that you will have to eventually accept and learn to cope with. Taking care of YOURSELF is important, I did not do that and I wasted decades of pain, grief and tears! ((((Hugs))))) and my prayers are for you and your son!

Ox Drover thank you for your reply. There could be a thousand questions to answer…..So instead of going there, I will answer just a few. My son is 16, the tramatic event in his life happend when he was nearly 4 years old. His father commited suicide…So no, he doesn’t have a father in his life. His disturbing personality traits are something I saw at about the age of 15. And when I say disturbing I mean DISTURBING. Because before they surfaced in puberty my son althiough a stubborn and VERY strong willed child still seemed to fit into what I would consider going through the “normal” phases of childhood/adolecence up until about a year and a half ago. When these disturbing traits started to surface.
After my husband commited suicide (12 yrs ago) I can honestly say that I did my best to raise my kids. (under the circumstances) I was devistated by what happened especially since my son who was not quite 4 at the time was in the house with him ALONE when it happened. I was at work. It was determined at the time by a professional child psyciatrist (arranged by the police) that he (my son) did not see it happen but woke up to his father being dead and spent the rest of the day alone with him until I arrived home from work. I also would have determined this even without the doctors opinion (although at the time I was very grateful to have this doctors opinion) as I listened to my sons child like “chatter” recount of this day for months after the suicide. Because my son was there and I was NOT there, tormented me for years….
After this happened as much as I was really not in the best place I could possibly be, I decided early on that suicide and trying to grieve a suicide death was a very draining and emotionally challenging place to be. And I also knew that raising a soon to be 4 year old and a 14 year old was also a draining and challenging place to be. I put all the energy I had left into focusing on raising my kids. And because my son was robbed of a father I tried to be the best mother I could be. NOT saying that I did everything right (obviously I didn’t) but I certainly was aware of the fact that my son would need a very loving/nurturing enviorment. I and I did try to provide that.
Suicide is the ULTIMATE rejection, the untimate F*** You…That can be, and often is the FIRST “feeling” or message, that those of us who love someone that takes their own life recieves. I suppose it is because suicide seems to be at least on the surface, a death of choice. AFTER many years of therapy I have a different view as a survivor of suicide. A more paradoxal view if you will….Although it might appear to us to be “death by choice” I believe NOW it is more so that the person believed they HAD no other choices. (not a fact but rather the reason they made the choice) This is my own interpetation, not one I am trying to pass onto others but one that many survivors in my shoes also can relate to.
I never wanted my son to feel that ultimate rejection and tried to raise him with love and lots of attention.

I do have an older son (different dad) whom is a full ten years older so he is an adult now. And he is fine.
But what I consider conventional parenting also seemed to work with him for the most part. Action/consequence, boudaries, respect of parent, respect of house rules, positive reinfocements, etc….My older son of course had his moments during his puberty/teenage years. But I guess I ALWAYS could see that this to shall pass, I always saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew it was a phase. He would grow out of it etc.

My youngest son is a different story. Right from the MOMENT I accepted that these personality traits were in fact disturbing and also it was like looking at a completely different person than who I had known 2 years before….I somehow sensed early on that this wasn’t a phase….This wasn’t just normal teenage rebellion. This was something MUCH bigger and much more demanding of all of the parental skills or lack of that I could muster.
From there things escalated very quickly. Things about a month and a half ago here were very much out of control. I was feeling that my son on top of the other issues at hand was very depressed and even suicidal. THAT alone made me feel very fearful/helpless…..

He had seeing a counscelor and finally was evaluated (not a complete eval) by a phyciatrist and put on meds. To see if they might stabilize his moods.
Now he is refusing to take them and I don’t think the meds had enough time to prove how well or not so well they were going to work but they did seem to take a bit of the edge off of his irritability. And after how out of control things were here several weeks ago I am grateful for any changes, even small ones. When things were out of control he was completely not allowing (strange word to use I know but the TRUTH) me to parent at all.
He was giving ME ultimatums. Something he had never done before. He was making every bad situation worse. If he was flunking 3 subject he decided to flunk the rest of them as well. He gave me THAT look….That dark scarey look that I KNOW you must all be familiar with. The look that chills you to the bone. The EYES where no one you KNOW is “home” anymore. Eyes of a stranger and a scarey one at that. CERTAINLY not the beautiful blue eyes that I had known in the past of my son. I recieved that look more times than I care to count in a few short weeks. And before this period of time I had only seen that look once before…..

Anyways we are back to things progressing quickly again…I am going to counseling (just started) (I have NO insurance for myself so was on a waiting list a mile long) He has been seeing a counscelor since Aug/Sept. Although if I had a different insurance I would “shop” for a different doctor for him….My only insurance is medicade for him and it doesn’t offer options or choices.

I would say that raising a child with sociopathic tendancys within their personality, REGARDLESS if they are a sociopath waiting to “happen” in adulthood or if they just have another major personality disorder, this is somthing that the average person can’t relate to. It is easy to sit back and be judgemental and wonder why a parent might give up or sound like they are “crazy” for making the decisions that they have made with their child. I can’t even imagine seeing these tendancys in young children as in some of the stories I have read…..
Trust me when I say this is like being between a true rock and a hard place. When it is your child.
THERE is nothing harder than coming FACE to FACE with the reality that your child that you have loved unconditionaly since the day they were born has this evil/dark side that doesn’t even seem possible. NOT even concievable to you even though you are living with it. ESPECIALLY when it is masked from the rest of the world and your friends or family don’t see it.
I have felt many times in the past that I would have been able to find a decent doctor even with MEDICADE if my child had lets say, a rare form of cancer….But because he has a mental illness very few support systems/doctors are available in my state for those on medicade. Just getting him a doctor at all, (even not a very good one in my humble opinion) was a constnat uphill battle.

I have read many, many, post that you and others have made on this site and others as well.
They do seem to help because you realize that there are some people who do relate to what you are going through even when you can’t articulate what you are going through very well.
Right now I realize that I can use all the help I can possibly get because I know what I have been doing is not effective. I also know that if he decided he isn’t going to take his meds any small relief that was provided by this medication is going to be gone. Today when I handed him his pill he just crushed it on the table to “show me” he meant business.

And I am tempted to crush his in his food tomorrow. Although this presents me with some moral dilema….I don’t even know if that is within my right or boudaries as a parent? But it is something I am going to think about. When my son was young and hated the “taste” of the medication he would be given by a doctor I had to get it into him some way or another…..This just seems different somehow.

witsend,
I have read all your posts. I don’t have any answers for you, unfortunately. I don’t even have any kids. My heart goes out to you. I am just curious–and please let me know if I’m prying–whether there is any other anti-social personality disorder that runs in your son’s extended family? In trying to figure it out, it is always helpful to know if there may be a genetic component. It’s so hard to know how his father’s suicide may have affected him. With my limited knowledge in this subject, the only thing I can think of to do would be to meditate or pray and visualize you and he sitting and looking at one another. Visualize yourself reaching out to him and trying to break through the barrier between the two of you. You can ask him–his spiritual self–what you can do to help him. Maybe you can get some spiritual guidance on this. I have often asked for answers to come to me in my dreams, and they do sometimes.

Well that is a very good question and one that I can’t fully answer. As far as my family is concerned there is nobody that I can recognize as having anti social personality.

My sons father was adopted. So I don’t know his biological parents. My husband did know them somewhat though, and spent some time with them a few times when he was growing up. I met them at my husbands funeral including his biological brother. That was the one and only time I ever met them or spoke with them.
His biological family ALL had addictive problems with both drugs/alcohol. As did my husband, my sons father. This is all I know.
My sons father had his own demons. He was an alcoholic. Obviously he had another not so “visable” demon that likely contributed to his ending his life.
Since this has presented itself in my son I have thought long and hard about his father. I was only with him for 5 years. And although he was the love of my life he had many issues. I saw those issues as alcoholic behaviour, however sometimes I question now some of what I deemed alcoholic behaviour. My sons father could be the most charming person on earth. And reeled me in, hook, line and sinker even though I was VERY RESISTANT to getting involved with him at the time.
The dark side I saw in him (and there was a dark side) I saw as him fighting his demons, at the time, alcohol….. He fought very hard for sobriety but when he finally realized some sobriety time in his life he had alot of issues to deal with. His being adopted was a big issue for him. It is possible if he had been longer on this earth, that I could be able to conclude more. Was the disfunction I saw in his personality something I would have seen more of as time went on, (such as a personality disorder) or was it as I thought at the time the disfunction that comes with alcohlic behaviour? I can’t honestly say.
There are many similarities and there are some differences as well.

I would like some pointers if you will, on how to begin to learn how to meditate. It is something I haven’t been able to master in the past…..Especially when I feel so troubled and I would like to be able to meditate….How do you turn OFF the stress and actually get to the point of “getting to that place” of a meditating state?

witsend,
In order to meditate, you need to have an object. The object I use is the breath. You can focus on the breath as your belly rises and falls or at the tip of the nose where you breath in and out. As you are focusing directly on the actual sensations of breathing, you will notice you mind wandering. You just make a mental note that you are “thinking” and gently return to the sensations of the breathing. Over and over again. It’s impossible for the mind to ever stop, and you are not trying to stop it. You just observe when you are thinking and gently bring the mind back to the object. If you practice enough, you will notice the mind quieting down.

The visualization I was talking about is actually something different. You imagine the person you are having difficulty with. You imagine talking to them from your spirit to their spirit. You are visualizing dissolving the barriers to getting through to that person. I don’t know if this would help with your son, but it’s certainly worth trying. It’s difficult to know at what point you know someone is a sociopath. Sounds like you are still giving him the benefit of the doubt that there is some way you can reach him. I hope you are right and can find that way. I really admire your strength.

Hello Witsend: I have been parent of a troubled teenager. I understand so much of what you say.

First of all, let’s look at you. You can’t be there for your kid if you are in turmoil.

This stuff about meditating — try something simple. When you are in the shower, imagine the shower washing away all your worries, and your worries, along with the sweat and dirt of yesterday, go down the drain. Imagine also that the hot shower is bringing you new, clean energy to replace the old poisoned stuff.

If you start with visualizing this kind of cleaning up of your own energy, you can then start to think about other ways to visualize. But this is an important place to start.

I don’t know what resources you have in your area, but I am sure you are working hard at trying to find ones that will help. Has anyone mentioned “Parents’ Anonymous”? I understand (from a talk with someone today) that this is a 12-step group for parents in your situation. I know it’s not clinical help with your son, but it could be helpful support for you.

As to the situation with your son, no one knows for sure how deep his issues run. I understand that “dissociating” is something that shows up in psychopathic behavior, but people do that when they have different issues as well. (Dissociating is a term for when people seem to distance themselves from the reality in front of them, and act as if something else was real instead.)

My other immediate question for you is — What are you doing to take care of yourself? Seriously! Your judgment can be off if you aren’t nourished and sleeping well and instead you are trying to deal with crisis after crisis.

I’ll check in in the morning. I hope you sleep well.

My ex-husband’s mother told me that when he was four and five years old she would say to him as he was going outside to play, “Now Johnny, don’t get into a fight today”. Everyday he would go outside and beat up another child. He is 51 and still to this day loves to fight and cause pain. He is a very successful man when it comes to making money, looked up to as a spiritual guru in his AA meetings. He is still very abusive to me however. He can’t stop trying to control every aspect of my life and uses the children every way he can.
Sometimes I wonder if his father and mother had not been abusive alcoholics and was able to get him help early on if he would have had a chance. His mother is extremely rejecting, dominating and controlling and his father is even worse. Maybe Johnny never had a chance.

My question is: Is sociopathology inherited or is it a learned trait?

kathy-

“My question is: Is sociopathology inherited or is it a learned trait?”

We’ve been discussing that here for a long time. Yes, no, both…the debate continues. I lean toward the genetic explanation, with the nurturing aspect either modifying the tendencies or causing them to emerge in full force. That debate will continue.

Dear Kathy,

I suggest you go back and read some of the old archived articles (especially Dr. Leedom’s articles on research). There seems to be a BIG part of psychopathic personality disorder that is INHERITED. But it is not one of those things where one dominant gene makes it absolute, as it seems to be a big combination of SEVERAL GENES. However, there is one article on the “bondiing hormone” Oxytocin, where the psychopaths appear to have the hormone but lack the receptors in the brain. (the article was about sheep being used as test subjects for this hormone, which is released during birth, nursing and sex in humans as well as animals.)

My family history is rife with psychopaths,, and even ones where the natural parents did not raise the children. My biological father (sperm donor) who did not raise me, was an out of control child by age 8 or 10, my younger half sib who appears to be the only P out of his three children, was fighting his way home from school every day by age 8, my own P son had no environmental problems that should have caused him to become JUST LIKE my P-sperm donor who he never met. But he is so much like him in manner, thinking, violence, and cunning that it is errie.

There is a great deal of wonderful articles and many about medical research into the causes of psychopathic personality disorder. It is quite complex and not everything is known about it yet of course, but much IS BEING LEARNED.

As far as your X is concerned, Kathy, sounds like he had the double whammy, environment and genetics.

I think that much of your theories are out–dated. It used to be thought that autism was caused by “refrigerator moms”. Not true. Children are born with the instinct for love as well as for language. How that instinct is addressed is the issue. I suggest The Language Instinct, by Stephen Pinker. It’s a great book for anyone who has a child with a language disorder.

As for sociopaths, I believe they are born that way. A child who isn’t a sociopath and misbehaves has a behavior problem. A sociopath can learn to copy love, but doesn’t feel it. They act “as if” they loved someone. But they don’t.

Autistic people feel love, but they lack the ability to pick up social cues which enable them to “fit in”. They can learn to fit in better by wearing the same clothes as their peers or listening to the same music. My son is autistic. He feels real love and expresses it in a normal way. Where he goes wrong is in learning what to talk about with his peers, etc…

Dear Running away,

Glad you are here, and welcome. There are some articles here on autism vs psychopathic thinking (Dr. Liane Leedom’s blogs).

I just thought of something about this a while ago,, that sort of was an “ah ha” moment for me….Dr. Leedom talks about a child who has psychopathic genes being “learning disabled” in learning about love. That may be true in a manner of looking at it, but just as a BLIND child is “learning disabled” because he can’t see, though his intellect is quite bright, no matter how you nurture that child, he will NEVER BE ABLE TO SEE….I think there are at least SOME cases where children are SO learning disabled about the ability to love that their ability to love is just like the child born without eyes CAN NEVER SEE, there is NO WAY to get them to be able to experience love.

Of course just as there are “degrees” of “blindness” in children who are born or deveop some genetic problem with sight, with some being totally blind even to darkk or light, and some just having very poor vision, there are, I think, some degrees of the psychopathic personality disorder and how it is expressed. Some who are “not too bad” genetically, might be able to grasp some partial concept of empathy and love and others are totally devoid of ANY connection or bonding to other humans and are complete predators (although they CAN FAKE emotions).

I think by the time my P-sperm donor was 8 or 10 he was completely unmanageable and out of control, how much sooner was he out of control I am not sure, but he had no bonding to any human I can think of, though he did OWN several other people (in his mind at least) but he totally dispised every other person in the world.

My P-son mimics him completely, and yet they have never met. I think that both my P sperm donor and my P son were “born” without the capacity to love in any form other than “ownership” of others, or to have empathy or caring at all for the welfare of any one or anything except themselves. All other people are simply PREY to them. Just as a cat enjoys playing with a mouse it is killing, so do they enjoy toying with their prey.

I just posted a new article on parenting as an effective tool to correct asp tendencies
http://holywatersalt.blogspot.com/

Many a parent has had to deal with the pain and hardship of learning that their child is Downs, autistic, deaf, dyslexic, has leukemia, etc… How is testing children for psychopathy any different?

Dear SOS, if there was a specific “test” that could tell you that your child say at age 5 was going to be a “P” it would be nice. YOu could make some plans about what to do with that child. How to handle them, etc.

But at the same time, I would much rather my child had been DEAF and BLIND than to have been a Psychopath! I also would have been grateful when he was say age 17 to have been able to have tested him and had a diagnosis.

Since Ps are actually not “legally” either retarded or incapable of making decisions for themselves, and since they are many times quite “high functioning” (hey they can make it to be president of the US!) (not mentioning any names, but he is NOT president now) LOL but unless you are going to send these “positive testers” somewhere to isolate them from the rest of society, what the heck difference does it make? There is no treatment and depending on the kid, they may be dangerous by age 8 or 10. The only thing you can do with them if you KNEW the diagnosis is to warehouse them in some sort of in-patient faciity and then turn them loose at age 18 until they commit a crime and then they go to prison for a while.

Believe me, dealing with having one for a child is a lot worse than a child with an identifiable problem, or even a deadly disease where they actually die at some point. WISHING your kid would die is worse, I think, than having one die. Just MHO.

OxD,

Warehousing kids is getting a little Christopher Langan. But then the “worlds smartest man” ‘s stepfather was a sociopath, and you can tell that that experience left its mark.

Gladiator camps? …with all the drugs and sex you want? I read somewhere that the army had a project where they specifically chose psychopaths to initiate initial attacks, since most other soldiers would freeze in first combat ”“ but I think it was bogus. I’d think P’s would be serious disciplinary and loyalty problems.

P’s as president? Who knows. They all get accused of it (well, except when it’s too tough of a sell as with ’bumbling’ Ford and ’overly idealistic’ Jimmy). It could be that the media and the opposition keeps them in check. Personally, I avoid pointing the finger at all but the most obvious examples, like Blago-alphabet.

They have I.Q. tests for kids, reading tests for kids…

I believe because this is all so complicated as far as crossover symtoms in these different disorders it makes it even harder to comprehend as a parent what you are dealing with….
When I was pregnant with my now 16 year old son I already had a 10 year old at home so I was 39 years old. Because of my age I was advised to have the amnio. test to see if my baby was “all right”. Older mom, higher risk for mental retardation and some other things as well. I thought about it only for a moment and declined. My reasoning back then was if something was found wrong with my baby, how would I continue to carry him and have a decent attitude for the rest of the duration? I felt I wouldn’t be ok with abortion so what would the purpose be to have the test? I decided to take my chances NOT KNOWING….
Today I still would have made the same choice about the amnio test.
However, with what is going on with my son right now, I am not feeling content with the “not knowing” what the future holds for him. I realize of course no one knows what is in store for the future. This is not what I am talking about.
The “not knowing” that I am talking about is if my sons personality disorder (that I see) is caused by the tramatic event he had as a child, anti social personality disorder, another personality disorder, post tramatic disorder, the list could go on and on…..

Did he at some point shut down in puberty or did something (ugly) wake up within him in puberty? Does he really live in his own little world (of mental illness) or was his own little world created to save his sanity ? (because he is in unbearable pain) Is he unable to give or recieve love, or does he not have love to give and is unable to FEEL the love directed at him? Does his grandious ideas/beliefs and behaviours mean that he has high regard of himself or does it mean that he NO sence of self? Does he lie so consistantly and about everything because he is sick or is he sick because he lies about everything? Does he even know the truth?
All these questions and many others are questions I ask myself every day.

As much as I CAN understand why a child under 18 years old should NOT be labeled a sociopath because then there is no hope for a cure, I can also understand that it would be better for a parent to be able to RULE that out…..If that couldn’t possibly be the diagnosis….
Regardless of my sons age I would be told if he had any other incureable disease wouldn’t I? Although anti social personality disorder is the worst possible case senerio, and that would be the worst thing in the world to hear about your own child…..It would also be absolutely wonderful news to be able to rule that out and go on from there.

So my personal opinion is that this is very debatable…..As much as I don’t want to know IF this is the case with my son, I also deserve to know.
Right now I feel like I am banging my head against the wall just to get anywhere with him and still pretty unclear what his “condition” is, REALLY. And he is seeing a couscelor and he has seen a phyciatrist but he wasn’t given a FULL evaluation.

Why wasn’t he given a full evaluation? Is it economics ($$) Is it medicade (lack of good insurance) Is it a lazy or overbooked phyciatrist, lack of resources? What….

I took my son to get help. At a time when I felt, as his mother he was at a critical stage. Why is it that I still have more questions than answers at this stage of the process? Why do the mental health experts seem to be so hard to deal with..?

If my son has a mental illness where time is crucial….In other words, he MIGHT be helped because he is still young and there is a “window” of opportunity here….Before it is to late then I will be damned to know what we are waiting for.
I would venture to say that if my son had BROKEN the law and was court ORDERED to get an evaluation by a judge we wouldn’t be wasting all this valuable time. The judge would have a full evaluation in hand.

I do not percieve myself to be a person without patience…I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day and I am not sking for my son to be diagnosed, treated and cured within 6 months….I believe at BEST, whatever my sons problem is it will be one that will be a long term recovery if not life long. But it shouldn’t take 6 months just to get a referal. And I had to fight for just that.
I need my energy to deal with the daily “issues” I face at home with my son. It would be nice to at least have a more identifiable conclusion at this point of what exactly I am dealing with.
Many days I feel like I need a lawyer (being sarcastic) present when trying to talk to my son….Because he twist and turns things around to suit him. I am starting to feel like I need a TEAM of lawyers when I go to see my sons couscelor….
Do I have stupid written all over me?

Sos, I guess you know me well enough that you could tell there was SOME “tongue in cheek” in my “warehousing” comment.

Some of the world’s most intelligent and productive men have been psychopaths in their private lives—warriors, military, politicians, inventors, inovators of all kinds. So it is an ILL wind that blows no one good! Unfortunately, if you are involved with these men (and women) you can suffer for your trouble.

It would definitely be a nicer and safer world if they were all gone though. Beam THEM up, Scotty!

Dear Witsend,

We posted over each other, so I didn’t see your post until I had posted the one to SOS.

There is some “political” stuff in the mental health field about NOT “labeling” a kid before he is 18, but IN ORDER TO QUALIFY as a Psychopath (sociopath, anti social personality disorder) diagnosis after 18, he had to have had “behavior problems” before 18. Some kids this age are labeled “conduct disorder” (but that is pretty much a term for “gonna be a psychopath” when he turns 18.)

Fron what you have described you have already lost “control” over this kid and he apparently does not care what you think. There is a certain amount of this in any teenager, but to the point of physically bullying you? NO, that is MORE than a normal teen in my opinion. I think you MUST get some counseling for yourself and for your son, professional counseling. Keep at the powers that be to get him evaluated by someone who has some sense. My opinion, for what it is worth, is that because you are no longer able to influence or “control” this young man, you must find some help to help you, whatever it takes, before he goes off the “deep end”—and he still may go off the deep end in any case.

I lost control of my son for several years before he left home at 17 (right into the arms of the cops) and then when he got out on probation, he jumped bail and ran away, then was involved in a felony crime (home invasion at gun point) and went to prison for 2 years of a 5 yr sentence, then out 5 months and back again for murder in 1991.

If they are determined that you can’t control them, then you cant do it. You can only do what you can do and no more. If I had known what I know NOW back then, I would have left my son to his own devices at age 17. And saved myself a lot of money and grief. But I didn’t know then what I know now.

Standard psychopaths are fearless and extraverted, crafty, manipulative, silver tongued gabby, selfish, amoral, easily bored, excitement junkies. I don’t think standard psychopaths feel depression for any other reason than their freedom to do as they please has been truly limited by someone or some circumstance.

I think maybe still more information is needed about witsend’s son’s basic personality. What are his friends like? What’s his clique or status at school? Can he take care of himself physically? What do the teachers say about his in-class and on-campus behavior? What does his older brother think?

S O S, Those are all good questions and I would like to answer them because I welcome input from all of you…I am as my name suggest at my wits end.

If someone asked me my humble opinion, and although I am certainly not qualified to make a diagnosis, but I am the person who sees/knows my my son the most because we live in the same house…I would venture to say that he has more than ONE thing going on right now. In other words I do believe that it is VERY possible that he is going through depression right now. Has alot of the “outward” signs of that. He started not to care about appearance, lack of showering, dirty hair, sleeping ALOT, lack of appetite, etc. This is all a rather recent ADDITION to what has been going on for the past year and a half.

The personality/mood traits that I have mentioned in previous blogs , that has been going on for about a year and a half. And this “depressed” mood that is more recent might very well be brought on by how did you put it…..His feeling of being “limited” or held back to do EXACTLY as he pleases.

Although I really have no control over him, in the sense that you can take the horse to the water but you can’t make him drink…I make sure he gets to school every day but I can’t make him perform once he gets there. And he will PROJECT that BACK to me every day by sleeping in school or not performing.

To answer your questions. He has only a few friends. He doesn’t seem to put as much value on friends as most kids his age. Many times he prefers his own company. He rarely calls his friends. Usually if they do get together they make the initiative.
His status at school I believe (from what I see) changed from middle school to high school. He is currently a sophmore. Small town school. He dropped all school sports so he doesn’t participate in them anymore. (He couldn’t participate now anyways because of grades) He doesn’t fit into the “popular kids”, “jocks” etc cliques at school…What his status is, I wouldn’t really know. For ALL appearances sake he doesn’t care about school because he doesn’t participate even in the social aspects. For instance he wouldn’t go to a football game anymore just to be there among his peers.

His teachers this last half of the year have ALL of a sudden started contacting me. Where as last year & begining of this year I was trying to reach out to them for support/suggestions of his failing grades now THEY are very frustrated with him. My son was given an assesment test in the 9th grade and he is very smart, tested at the 11th & 12th grade level when he was in 9th grade. He should be pulling straight A’s. He has LOW Fs in every class. He is failing at this point because he is NOT doing the work. He does have ADHD but was just diagnosed with this recently. Just the Type A or Type 1. Very unorganized, scattered, doesn’t bring materials to class…
2 weeks ago we had teachers conferences and all 5 of his teachers said he sleeps in their class. They can’t get him to do anything. ONE teacher actually said that at this point she doesn’t even wake him up. I was mortified as this is the teacher that in the begining of the year really worked hard to motivate him in her class. so I asked her WHY she doesn’t wake him? She said: “A sleeping ***** is better than a cranky *****. (my son can be very irritable for no apparant reason)
If I ask him what the problem is at school he will say ONE of two things, depending on what day it is….MOST often he blames the teachers. They are incompetent and should all be fired. (HE actually says that to me)
The other thing he might say is that he doesn’t need school or an education. (as he has a very grandious plan for himself of how he is going to make ALOT of money)

As for his brother. They are 10 years apart in age. So his brother doesn’t live at home for a few years. He manipulates his brother to think he is trying in school. His brother doesn’t see what is really going on here at home. However he is also very frustrated with him as he KNOWS he shouldn’t be failing in school. He knows of his younger brothers grandious plans and tries to reason with him as far as school is important.

My son in general has very low tolerance for people/society. His peers, his teachers, me, his counscelor, ect. He will quickly point out what “others” should be doing and how they should do it, or what their faults are.

S O S also would like to address the begining of your comments…What you say about “standard” psycopaths having specific critera. I am still learning about the specifics of the different disorders. What I have learned so far though is that there is a wide spectrum of sociopaths and their lifestyles.
The many that are behind bars where the ones that many of the scientific studies were taken from. But there are many also who have high profile careers and many who can’t keep a job to save their life. Many with high intelligence and many with out intelligence. Etc….
So in other words from what I have read/learned every single sociopath although they share many of the same symptoms, specifically lack of empathy, all have various levels of how functioning they are in their lives. So like any other “labeled” member of society, they have as many similarities as they have differences.

I am not explaining this well but when you look specifically at the list of symptoms of a sociopath, HOW is it even possible that a person with this disorder can “last” in a marriage for 20 years ( or a carrer)? When the next sociopath you read about can’t maintain even functioning in society past the age of 18 years old as he has already been incarcerated. It can only be because there is that “wide spectrum” of this condition.

My son fits into many of the defined personality traits of a personality disorder. Passing blame, lack of remorse, flunking out as school (without a care), grandious ideas/thinking, lack of reality, LIES consistantly & about everything (both about important and unimportant things), defies authority, grandious sence of self, control issues, etc…..

Although this alone doesn’t constitute him as a sociopath, he also isn’t your normal average “defiant” type teenager either.
He goes way beyond that.

It is the total package that scares the hell out of me….And although he hasn’t broken the law yet, if not given the help that he needs NOW….I see this as a very distinct possibility….
I DON’T want to see this, he is my son, but I would have to be in complete denial NOT to see it.

In other words what I see in his personality coming out this last year and a half he wouldn’t have the “tools” to function in the real world. His sense of reality is so VERY distorted he couldn’t function for very long. Whatever his disorder is….It is a disorder.

I still cling to the thought that because he has had trama in his life at an early age he has SHUT DOWN his “normal” emotions/feelings rather than these emotions don’t exist. I see this as a very distinct possibility. However I don’t see this being explored with his couscelor. ANOTHER part of my frustration.

witsend,

Tax day. I’ve had get cracking. Anyways, out of the sociopathic “dark triad”, psychopaths and narcissists are always extraverted. Machiavellians are introverted but manipulative. You’re son seems to be none of these – P’s, N’s and M’s engage the world. He’s avoiding. My story is somewhat similar yet different, but telling it might help you extrapolate some ideas.

I went through a phase after HS. I would have MBTI tested as an INXJ with low self esteem. I knew I was smart but had no motivation to succeed at anything. My HS clique was loosely connected. We had pot, beer, cars, music, and random adventures in common. In hindsight, I realized we all had nonexistent or poor father figures in all of our lives (divorce, death, or in my case, a self absorbed narcissist). Anyways, after HS the clique split up, some going to college and others into work. My father demanded that I attend the local university, but after two years of uninspired mediocrity I dropped out. I spent most of my time alone in my bedroom. I avoided my friends who’d gone into the dope peddling business, and my last remaining other friends dumped me. Both parents would try to shame me out of my depression, inadvertently making it worse. Quickly my father gave up, having not really cared too much anyways, but whined to his parents to cover his ass, turning them against me. At extended family gatherings I sensed that I was the ’weird one’. But my mother hung in there, but not the way I wanted or needed her to. She’d harass me every single day about being the ’family embarrassment in mama’s basement’.

If I really went into detail my story would take pages. But in hindsight, my issues boiled down to:

At that age, I was smart enough to unconsciously know about the way the world really works, but not strong enough to do what it would take to tackle that challenge. I knew I could not survive on my own, and I was scared sh*tless, and had completely given up all hope.

It was only after I met a girl whose father had been an abusive drunk, who had to leave home at 15 to avoid sexual molestation, yet somehow graduated from community college with an AA to support herself, that I was inspired enough to move on.

Two big differences between myself and your son, is that: 1. I didn’t lie, I was honest (though confused or even clueless) back then, about what I was perceiving. 2. My parents were incapable of understanding what I was dealing with, let alone helping me. Their only tool was to ’kick the donkey’ ”“ unaware that the donkey sensed cougars in the bushes ahead.

So S O S what would have helped you when you were in High School and going through this? What SHOULD your parents have done? I would assume that I have already made every mistake in the book or I certainly FEEL like I must have….
What course of action would be the positive and constructive one? And did you have a tramatic event in your life?

And my sons avoidance in this world is somewhat a more recent developement than what I saw early on.

Please be more specific of what INXJ stands for as I don’t know?
Thank You

Also S O S….
Were you ever suicidal (you mentioned that you had given up hope)

witsend:

I went through a suicidal depression when I was in my late teens. Reading your postings about your son, I see an awful lot of parallels with my own life — the plunging grades, irritability, disengagement from life.

Your son needs to be in intensive therapy — pronto. His depression sounds severe enough that he should be in a a therepeutic setting. Especially since he is rejecting the therepeutic drugs. One problem with the drugs is that unless you are in a hospital/treatment setting, the doctors cannot get you up to a therepeutic dosage fast enough.

Dear Witsend,

I would also suggest you interview with 3 or 4 new therapists for your son. First with just yourself explaining, verbalizing everything you are concerned about and have experienced with him…list of questions, note the feedback, the receptiveness, the suggestions the supportiveness or lack thereof with each prospective therapist. Put it all on the table and hold nothing back — you should walk away feeling welcomed, heard and understood and confident that your son is going to be in good hands and with a therapist that is willing to work with each and every one of your concerns.

And it may be helpful to not focus so much on what may have caused your sons inconsistencies or personality disorders right now, but to focus on getting him into the right hands. Work with what you do know, not what you dont yet know. Work with what his behaviors are, not why they have surfaced. Work with what you have in front of you, for right now, so you can focus on getting him the support he needs.

You made mention of him falling beyond the realm of typical teenage defiance behaviors…and you also mentioned he has an older sibling, so you have even more maternal instinct to rely on and trust your own conclusions about your teenage son. Trust yourself, and continue to seek the best therapy for him. And if the answer is that your son is experiencing a depression or severe personality disorder, then you will know you cannot approach him or his situation the way you would a teenager who is going through” typical teenage years” — you are going to have to become creative in the ways in which you interact with him.. and learn the tools to be able to communicate with him in a way that he can begin to communicate with you.

Please keep sharing with us and you can always find support here. We are all here for you. You will get through this. Its alot of sorting out to do right now and Im sure a very scary and overwhelming time for you. Someone will always be here for you at LF as you sort it all out and hopefully finally begin to see some doors open for both of you with good therapy.

So S O S what would have helped you when you were in High School and going through this?

This is a tough one. Even though I was tiny, I was physically coordinated and showed some aptitude for wrestling. I should have worked out. I should have taken small steps towards getting involved, to exercize my talents. Wait a minute… I should? I had no mentors, nobody who understood my situation. After HS I (myself), went to a public mental health clinic, my last option. I guess I needed somebody to notice, care, listen, and carefully advise.

What SHOULD your parents have done?

I read somewhere that good parenting involves at least five parts positive to one part negative, and that ratio doubles if the kid is depressed and/or anxious. With my parents the ratio was 1:10 (complement, appreciation, love : criticism, nagging, shaming, punishment).
My parents should have at least taught me all the basic kid stuff (riding a bike, driving, sex, bullies, picking friends) that other parents were teaching their kids. I fell behind my peers. I was a fairly cool 8 year old, but a very backwards 16 year old.
Have an open door policy.
Be able to see things from my point of view.
Be capable of thoughtful reflection and insight.

What course of action would be the positive and constructive one?

Depends entirely on the kid. My cousin had similar issues to me, except he had brothers, and his parents were somewhat wiser, though his father’s punishments bordered on abuse. After drifting for a few years after HS, he joined the air force. He then got his engineering degree, and does pretty well now in middle age. Our nephew went down a similar same path. At age 22 he’s just joined the air force. I honestly don’t know if your son kid needs more hope, time to sort things out, or what, but I’d follow Matt’s advice. He’s a lawyer.

And did you have a tramatic event in your life?

Moved cross country from a small town to a big city. I’d unconsciously realized that I’d lost everything – good friends, popularity, status, support system. In the new school I was nobody, nothing. I got picked on. I unwittingly acted out by pushing my little sister around. My father tired of this and called me into the kitchen in front of the whole family and popped me in the mouth, knocking me to the ground. That’s when I realized that I was alone with my problems and on my own in that family.

Please be more specific of what INXJ stands for as I don’t know?

It comes from MBTI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator
It claims 16 distinct types, none better than any other. I believe that each “type” flows into adjacent types in a continuous fashion, and I get along much better with some than with others. I also believe there also healthy and unhealthy versions within each type. I believe each baseline type has it’s own preferences for neuroticism as well as normal behaviors and also in environmental pushes and pulls. For example, an INTJ female who is unusually adventurous (for an INTJ), is more likely to be physically attractive than not. Sorry, I’m adding in my own beliefs and digressing.

This place is more user friendly and should be less confusing than wikipedia or myself:
http://www.personalitypage.com/home.html

I = Introverted (fairly high harm avoidance) ”“ I never jump into the deep end. I have to observe and think about things before doing. Cautious, sometimes anxious.
N = iNtuitive (high novelty seeking, but only from an intellectual perspective) Theoretical, abstract, imaginative.
X = middle of the road thinking or feeling (average reward dependence) I can be sentimental but not for everyone, I can be emotionally detached but can consider others as required.
J = moderately judging (moderate persistence, conscientiousness) I usually finish what I start. Goal directed. Prefer to do the ’right thing’. Not too flexible.

Were you ever suicidal (you mentioned that you had given up hope)

In thought but never in deed.

At the end of the day, I think hope was the difference. When I had more hope than fear my powerful imagination took hold and I changed my life, although this happened slowly. The good news is that once inspired, I went back to school, got a good job, worked my way up through fixer homes to my current property (which is really too big for my needs). The bad news, is that I’d become complacent in dealing with sociopaths. I learned the hard way that sometimes in life you must fight them. I’ve had to go through the school of hard knocks, repeatedly, but I’m still here.

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