Cartoons teach young children about sociopaths

This morning I was writing a comment on a recent article claiming that psychopathy is not a mental disorder while my son was watching Kung Fu Panda. Hopefully the comment challenging the premises of the article will be published and I’ll write more about it in a few weeks. Kung Fu Panda was almost as disturbing as the report that said that since psychopaths harm strangers more than family members, psychopathy is advantageous and not a disorder.

In this morning’s episode, Po the Kung Fu Panda decided it would be a good idea to reunite 13 y/o warthog “BZ” with his imprisoned sociopath father Taotie. BZ has problems and is completely unmotivated, responding “boring” to everything he sees. Taotie is a self described “megalomaniac” who is obsessed with anger and revenge.Taotie understands BZ’s longing for a father-son relationship and exploits this longing by saying he is proud of him, then by asking BZ to bake him cakes. BZ bakes the cakes with the help of Po. Taotie instructs his son to smuggle machine parts into the prison using the cakes. Unsuspecting Po brings him the final cake when BZ balks at his father’s plot. With all the machine parts, Taotie escapes then attacks and assaults Po and BZ’s other friends. BZ regrets helping his father and disables his attack machine, he nonetheless leaves with his father. In the end Po says he is glad to have “reunited a family.”

What is the moral of the story here?

Perhaps there are some unemployed family lawyers now writing for Kung Fu Panda?

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15 Comments on "Cartoons teach young children about sociopaths"

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i’ve seen this episode. we actually used it to talk about parents who shouldn’t be around their children. there is a similar plot on “ninjago” on the cartoon network. we have also talked about the character “sam” on the early “icarly” shows. she is not only portrayed as an uncaring delinquent with a crazy mother and no father, she is also amazingly mean and sadistic to “freddy.” in later seasons she becomes more human and she and freddy end up dating. (so bizarre, if i was freddy i would have set her on fire long before)

anyway, we use this as a springboard to talk about A.) how unreal TV is and B.) bullying and antisocial behavior. we talk about alternative plot lines and how things might have gone if it was real life.

there are other shows which model much better behavior and i encourage my children to watch those as much as possible. but when they don’t, we use it as an opportunity to talk about the issues as they arise.

Hi Sky,
All good points. But I still contend that it’s one thing to say, because the nature of this is hidden, that your results are slightly in support of a particular hypothesis and apply to a particular narrow set of conditions only (which would be the ethical thing to do). It’s quite another to knowingly select a limited and skewed (but easily available) set of data and misrepresent that your results apply globally.

But mainly I just get sick to death of everywhere reading that ‘psychopath’=’male’.

That part isn’t hidden at all; it’s just lazy thinking and prejudice. They didn’t even bother to give a second thought about studying female psychopaths, nor even acknowledge that such a creature exists. But they then commit the grievous error of saying that their research applies to ALL psychopaths, and that it ‘proves’ their own narrowly defined (and incorrect) hypothesis. If they had said that it supports their hypothesis for “violent”, “incarcerated”, “male” psychopaths (which I still contend it doesn’t, but that’s a different argument) I wouldn’t have been so concerned.

I’m currently reading “When She Was Bad: How and Why Women Get Away with Murder” by Patricia Pearson. There is a wonderful paragraph about Carol Bundy (the LA serial killer, no relation to Ted Bundy) and the justice system that I think is fitting for some of the problems I see with this research (and frankly, most of the research on psychopathy).

The weight of evidence cannot tip justice when the weight of prejudice is on the other scale. “If it happens we have to go against each other,” Los Angeles murderer Carol Bundy wrote to her co-conspirator, Doug Clark, from jail in 1982, “remember, I look innocent. Impression is worth as much as facts.” She later announced at his trial: “Mr. Clark had virtual total control over my personality and behavior, my wants, my desires, my dreams.”

I agree, the way it was written, leans heavily on the commonly accepted knowledge of spaths as ax-wielding males.

It’s nothing like that at all. They are manipulators. decievers and betrayers above all. The way they behave is like that of a person who is powerless and needs to deceive.

That’s what is so confounding. Even the male spaths are more like females.

An interesting read by Liane Leedom.

Excellent comments.

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