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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Liane, that is TOTALLY SICK! Unfortunately, this is the kind of carp that is being fed to our children via “entertainment” and wayyyy too many parents use TV as a passive baby sitter.

It is bad enough that road runner and the coyote are always trying to kill each other….and that kind of violence doesn’t seem to have any lasting consequences.

I actually feel so strongly about the bad effects that Television have on children that during the time my kids were little we did not have a TV and Ii did my best to keep them away from it at their friend’s homes…can’t say that the EFFECT was all that great, my sons didn’t turn out too well anyway…with Patrick being a criminal and a murderer and my son C not one that I want to associate with though he is not a psychopath.

I have a television in my home today but my son D and I watch maybe 3 or 4 hours a week average though some weeks we don’t even turn it on.

Shows in which there is a “story” even though that story may include some violent content are some of the DVDs we watch, but even now, as an adult, just “violence for the sake of violence” in movies or television today are not my fare. I think continually watching violent things coarsens us and degrades us emotionally.

I think the more we are exposed to “blood and guts” and gore and violence the more it “normalizes” it for us, even though we are adults…I can only imagine what it is doing to the youth of our country.

Arrrrrrrgh! WTF? What kind of kid’s cartoon is that?
In case you weren’t brought up in a dysfunctional home, TV will indoctrinate you into thinking dysfunction is normal? Did they show any other character who was saddened by the ending? You know, in order to provide a “moral of the story”?

I’ve been without tv for 3 years now. thanks for reminding me why.

Liane, the tripe that people are watching, today, is just that: tripe. From toddlers to seniors, it’s a host of bad behavior with many programs (reality shows, in particular) actually insinuating that bad behaviors are rewarded.

It just keeps getting worse and worse, as far as what society finds “acceptable” and tolerable. UGH!

Brightest blessings

Hi Dr. Leedom,
I hope they publish your comment. I had been considering registering for some courses at Queen’s. Of late, their top-tier status (Universities in Canada) has been slipping. This article shows one of the reasons why. That, and they let Karla Homolka obtain a degree in Psychology and Criminology – nuff said.

Just out of interest, I’m curious as to which premise you’re talking about: that it’s not a disorder. or that they harm strangers more than their own children?

I’d say that both premises are, if not false, at least based on very flimsy evidence.

As a child of a (female) psychopath, ALL the research I see is biased and misses the point. I see nowhere were ANYONE is interested in the POV of the blood family of psychopaths. Matter of fact, until a psychopath (and most likely not even then) is convicted on major crime charges (usually serial killing &/or sexual sadism) any attempt by family members to either receive help for their own victimization &/or to warn others is a fool’s errand. And as we all know, female psychopaths rarely even make it onto anyone’s radar, let alone conviction stats. In regards to their victimized (‘harmed’) children), no-one wants to hear it, and will reward you by labelling you crazy or worse for trying to state it. Hence, the perfect setup to be able to falsely state that psychopaths harm strangers more than their own families.

Furthermore, most of the children of psychopaths I know (at least the children of sadistic psychopaths) – no matter how law-abiding and decent they are, have taken pains to ensure they themselves don’t have children. I’ve read the accounts of a number of LF readers who are children of psychopaths, who have children themselves. But in person I know of only two or three – everyone else has for various reasons remained childless.

Also, one small tweak to that theory, psychopathic parents (particularly female psychopaths in my own experience, but would be interested to hear more from the children of male psychopaths) look for AND CULTIVATE psychopathic behavioural tendancies in their so-inclined children. They FOSTER those behaviours. I wouldn’t call that either protection or being parented in a way that is free from “harm”. IMO, I think turning your children into life-long monsters is a worse fate for them than being abused &/or killed. As for those children who don’t show psychopathic behavioural tendencies: those children are in far greater danger of physical harm than their siblings. I doubt anyone in the research community is measuring that. They all seem to look on psychopaths as ‘stars’.

One last point: all of our public policy, child welfare investment, etc… is really only geared towards the children of parents who love them. For those children with no-one watching out for their best interests (e.g. the children of psychopaths), they can disappear via a myriad of ways that aren’t counted statistically as having been ‘harmed’ by their psychopathic parent. Seriously doubt anyone is counting that either.

As for the Panda cartoon, what a horrid, horrid thing. Another wonderful psychopathic manipulation technique: put questionable (in this case, not much to question) moral propaganda in a children’s cartoon, and then prepare to lambast anyone who would be so ‘sensitive’ to be offended by a cartoon. Perfect setup.

EDIT: I just read the article by walkonmom (http://www.lovefraud.com/blog/2012/09/14/letters-to-lovefraud-having-a-child-with-a-sociopath-i-am-no-longer-a-mother/), and the comments that followed. If anyone ever needs convincing that male psychopaths are as likely to victimize their children as strangers, all they need to do is read that thread. The stories make your heart hurt.

All I can think to say to the researchers of that article is “What on earth were you thinking?”

Ah, of course. I am sick to death of the bias inherent in studies of ‘psychopathy’.

“Data were gathered from a review of 400 case files of violent male offenders evaluated at the Mental Health Centre, Penetanguishene, Canada.”

This is akin to doing a study on maulings by pitbulls, and then stating a conclusion that all dogs are potential killers unless muzzled. A Dachsund is equally capable of the act of biting. Killing, not so much. This is bad, bad, lazy, inaccurate research, and reporting.

Not one single mention that this applies to MALE psychopaths, let alone CONVICTED MALE psychopaths. God forbid that we ever even consider the possibility of female psychopaths who, I contend, are MORE likely to harm their own offspring but, according to Patricia Pearson, are the demographic group least likely to face charges for violence and murder.

One of the major flaws in most psychological research is that the researchers base their stats on convicted offenders, and completely ignore any bias inherent in the very systems that prosecute and convict those same offenders. Criminals who escape conviction (these are many – for instance most white collar criminals, most offenders against children, most violent women unless their offences are so ‘in-your-face’ that society can’t avoid it’, etc…) are not only non-existant in the ‘statistics’ but pretty much non-existant in the theories.

The other major flaw in far too many psychological studies is that far too many researchers are lazy cowards, who use easy data sources that they don’t bother to examine for bias or inaccuracy, and who have no interest in publishing findings that buck the system.

Such as the ‘research’ Dr. Leedom is referring to here.

Hmm, since I’m Canadian, this might just be a good test case for our dreaded Human Rights Commissions (that most of the population here detests): perhaps I should consider taking the authors of this study, and MacLeans, to court for gender discrimination.

Bless you Liane for spending your precious weekend time exposing this ridiculous study for what it truly is – ridiculous. When I first heard about this study, I actually thought that a psychopath must have conducted it. Either that, or the doctor who conducted the study was vulnerable and those who participated were able to suck him into their vortex of evil.

Anyone who reads this study and thinks there could be some truth in it has not ever come into contact with a true psychopath. Luc, my ex spath, does not discriminate with who he chooses to victimize. He seems just as likely to torture his family as he is to torture someone he doesn’t know. In fact, those who have been his family and him intimate partners have been the most harmed by him because we were easier targets.

Those psychopaths who participated in this study…well, maybe they weren’t the lazy psychopaths like Luc because they were ambitious enough to not poop where they sleep? Or maybe, just maybe…psychopaths are more likely to get caught when they hurt a stranger because the police are more likely to act on the crime when they hear about the psycho jumping out of the bushes and raping/killing a stranger vice someone who had the misfortune of being related to him…or was conned into believing he wasn’t a killer.

Anyway, to make a long story short – Thanks Liane for fighting the good fight so that people like me won’t have to receive this article as an attachment from our attorney who is trying to convince us that the spath may have something good to offer his child.

I’m just curious as to the precise procedure used to determine the assessment of “psychopath” by the participants. Did they pass the “Psychopath Aptitude Test,” or did they “admit” to being psychopaths, or were they randomly tagged “psychopath” because they’d been caught doing something illegal? JUST CURIOUS about the manner that determined who the psychopaths really were!!!!

ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!! I can just see a lithmus test for psychopathy that turns the paper strips a screaming red when dipped into psychopathic urine! Oh, yeah…..it’s just a simple matter of collecting urine from a person suspected of being ppath, and using this particular paper strip….holy cow, what utter nonsense.

Hi Truthspeak,
You can read how they picked their subjects here: http://www.frontiersin.org/Evolutionary_Psychology/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00305/full – in the “Materials and Methods” section.

It makes for interesting, if depressing, reading. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy process. As far as I can determine, they only assessed ‘victims’ as the defined victims (in the offenders conviction reports) in the offenses for which the prisoner was convicted. I hope Dr. Leedom will correct me here if I’ve misread this.

As we all know here only too well, any report of a victimization of a family member goes into the dreaded ‘domestic incident’ category and is rarely followed up on or prosecuted by police; those that are are routinely dismissed or thrown out in court. Hence, no convictions, no familial victim ‘stats’. Most familial crimes against children go through the Family Services/Social Welfare systems, (largely on the excuse of privacy considerations) and thus are never prosecuted through the justice system, and are completely invisible in our stats except in really obvious cases of death or serious injury (but generally not even then).

Should someone be brazen enough to assault A STRANGER (but not any stranger, only an ‘acceptable’ middle to upper-class stranger) THEN they will be arrested, prosecuted, (and possibly) convicted, and THOSE ASSAULTS will make it into the ‘stats’. But, since most of our public policy funding decisions are based on those same ‘stats’ we have this lovely self-reinforcing loop. The loop where family members of psychopaths know they’re far better off to just keep their mouths shut than ever go to the police for help or, god forbid, justice.

What just slays me about this study is that its prime author isn’t in psychology at all; he’s actually from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics! If anyone should know better than to cherrypick their sources, and then to cherrypick from the original cherrypicked group, it should be mathematicians. If you read the ‘excluded’ criteria it makes your head spin.

Their whole premise is that if psychopaths are nepotistic (meaning they advantage their own kin) then psychopathy isn’t a disorder/dysfunction, but an evolutionarily advantageous strategy. But, much like a good psychopath would, they’ve carefully cherry-picked their data sources to support their own theory.

There is actually some truth to their theory – as ugly as it may seem. But their study doesn’t touch the actual evidence for this; it’s just garbage. For instance, I have seen reference in at least two documentaries that in the population of a very large geographic area in China (might be the entire country, but I believe it was the entire country at an earlier date in history), over 1/4 have genes from the family of Ghengis Khan.

From what I can see so far, the evolutionary ‘strategy’ of psychopaths is something like this: use your promiscuity to have lots and lots of offspring through whatever means possible; strategically abandon children &/or manipulate decent family or strangers into caring for them, or marry decent spouses who will attempt to protect your children from you; or kill your offspring/blood relatives at will – as long as you have more than 2 children left surviving your evolutionary standing is secured. No nepotism involved, just law of averages. It would be interesting to follow their children into the next generation, however, and see just how well their genes have fared. In a dictatorship/feudal system like China (where they’ve never had democracy in their very long history) the genes of a psychopathic despot can proliferate. I’m not so sure, however, that this would be as true in a healthy democracy. Perhaps it’s no accident that our democratic systems are in serious decline worldwide at the same time that psychopathic cultural trends seem to be in season.

EDIT: Oh, btw, this study was published by professors from Queen’s University. The following article may give some perspective on that: http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2011/07/28/queens-quality-compromised-wrote-president-in-leaked-letter/

I guess it all depends on what they mean by “harm”. Does it HAVE to mean murder? Or does emotional/psychological harm count?

Society’s definition of success is also skewed to mean something different from what it should mean. It’s a spath definition to say that wealth and power is the definition of success. So if that is the case, yes there are spaths who achieve that. Bernie Madoff achieved that. Did he harm his children? Well not directly, his son committed suicide, though.

It’s also true that most spaths hate their mothers but choose to murder or torture substitute victims instead. My ex-spath was very kind to his mother, until the very end when he attacked me and he also attacked his mother verbally. It revealed the sick workings of his mind and the meaning of those enigmatic words he had said to me, decades earlier, “You remind me of my mother.” WTF? I don’t look ANYTHING like her.

Ted Bundy murdered women because he was angry at his mother for raising him initially as her brother rather than her son.

It actually makes sense for a spath to murder substitute victims because it makes it less likely that he’ll get caught if he attacks a total stranger, especially someone on the margins of society.

Then there are those spaths, like Drew Peterson and my own spath who do the long con and plan out murders for years in advance. They prepare an alibi and paint a picture so that the police are misled and they are never suspected.

Drew got away with murder for years. My ex-spath would have, if I hadn’t run. He had prepared everyone to believe I was suicidal. He had become friends with law enforcement, up to the highest office and had involved them in bullying me, so when I was found “suicided”, they would actively help to cover his ass, similarly to Sandusky’s plans for getting away with pedophilia.

That’s why people who study spaths are working with skewed numbers just by the nature and definition of psychopathy: they wear masks, they lie, they manipulate. The truth is hidden. How can you apply statistics to something hidden?

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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