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Scientific research

How psychopathic parents create complex trauma in their children

By Dr. Kathy Ahern

An earthquake strikes in the middle of the night. A four-year-old child is trapped in a demolished house. She is left without food or water, help or support for three terrifying days.

In a different city another child the same age is neglected by her self-absorbed parents. They ignore her cries of hunger and fear for three days.

Years later, the earthquake victim suffers no ill effects from her experience. The child who was physically and emotionally abandoned grows into an adult suffering from complex PTSD. The physical and emotional traumas were identical. So why the difference? Betrayal.

Senior Sociopath survey closing soon

There’s a rumor floating around in mental health circles that sociopaths “burn out” with age, that they engage in less antisocial behavior as they get older.

Is this true?

Lovefraud wants to find out. So we’ve developed a survey to gather data from you.

Were you involved with a sociopath while he or she was over age 50? The individual could have been any of the following:

  • Your spouse or ex-spouse
  • Your romantic partner
  • Your parent
  • Angry Frowning Man with Arms FoldedYour stepparent
  • Your child
  • Your stepchild
  • Your sibling
  • Another family member
  • A work colleague
  • A business associate

The Atlantic publishes: ‘When Your Child Is a Psychopath’

When Samantha was six years old, she tried to choke her two-year-old sister as they sat in the back seat of their mother’s car. After mom separated them, Samantha said she wanted to kill everyone in the family.

The anecdote starts an article in the June issue of The Atlantic, When Your Child Is a Psychopath. The author, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, writes that Samantha was diagnosed with conduct disorder with callous and unemotional traits. She has the traits of a budding psychopath.

Hagerty spoke to many of the leading experts on psychopathy and how it develops for this article. It’s a good explanation of the state of the science.

New research on why people who tell small lies graduate to big lies

good lies

Weheartit

An article in the New York Times reviews new research on how the brain reacts to lies. Essentially, when someone continues to lie, “the negative emotional signals initially associated with lying decrease as the brain becomes desensitized.”

Why big liars often start out as small ones, on NYTimes.com.

The story did not say that the research had anything to do with personality disorders. But it certainly makes sense with sociopaths — the more they lie, the easier it becomes, and they tell more lies.

And then there’s this sociopaths like the sense of power and control that they experience when people believe their lies. So not only does the negative reinforcement fade, but the positive reinforcement of winning escalates.

Domestic violence and brain trauma

brainMany women who endured domestic violence suffer from headaches, memory loss, and confused thinking. The cause may be traumatic brain injuries due to blows to the head. Women may be exposed to the same type of head injuries as football players.

Fists not football: Brain injuries seen in domestic assaults, on Foxnews.com.

How Dr. Bob Hare began studying psychopaths, and what he learned

Robert hare

Robert Hare (University of British Columbia)

When Dr. Robert Hare started his job as a young prison psychologist, the first prisoner he met was a psychopath, although Hare didn’t know it yet. In an interview published in Discover Magazine, Hare describes the encounter with a man he calls “Ray:”

“He was extremely predatory, looked at me like I was food,” recalls Hare. “With his eyes, he nailed me to the wall.” Then Ray pulled out a crude, handmade knife and waved it at Hare. When Hare refrained from pressing the panic button, Ray said he planned to use his weapon on another inmate. Hare felt that Ray was testing him, so he chose not to report the prisoner or the contraband weapon to other staff.

Child abuse is America’s biggest public health crisis, and if you had a sociopathic parent, it could explain what happened to you

ace_pyramid_400x308Yesterday I was standing in line, horrified at how a man in front of me was treating his two little girls.

The girls looked to be about two and four years old. One of them was in a stroller. He yelled at the older girl I don’t know why. When she started crying, he yelled at her again, threatening to hit her if she didn’t stop crying.

No matter what the kids did dropped a blanket on the floor, touched the stanchion rope the guy yelled.

If this father was treating his kids this way in public what in the world was he doing at home?

Victims of Sociopaths and Victim Blamers

FlawedFrameworksSearching for inspiration for this post, I stumbled across some pretty unattractive, “victim blaming” directed to someone who had been involved in a relationship with a person who is likely a sociopath.

Victim Blaming 

I find victim blaming unattractive for humanitarian and moral reasons, but I also find a deep irony in victim blaming—that the person accusing others of naivety and a lack of insight about human behavior, is in fact, themselves, displaying profound naivety and a lack of insight about human behavior. It’s as if they are assuming that all people have the same experiences and opportunities, hence if someone is deceived by a sociopath, it can only be due to that person’s inherent weak character, poor choices or some other negative characteristics.  The victim blamer often uses the fact they were not deceived by a sociopath as evidence of their inherently superior character and decision making.

How Sociopaths Fool You Into Thinking They’re You’re Friend

Tiger

Chapter 4
Richard Parker Is Not Your Friend

Psychopathic expert Kent Kiehl has contributed enormously to the field. He says that every adult psychopath he has ever worked with was different as a child, and not in a good way. When he looks through their prison files, he finds all kinds of stories about how much trouble they caused, how they never connected with friends, how they didn’t join teams, and how they were ultimately the black sheep of their families.

Sounds like what you would expect, right? A psychopath is not and never was your friend.

Here’s my issue. Kiehl works with prisoners.

Silly science: Researchers say liking bitter foods is linked to antisocial personality traits

Arugula

Like arugula? You may be a sociopath!

Every day, my breakfast is topped with curry powder, which contains turmeric, which is bitter. I must have my coffee in the morning. For lunch I usually eat a salad containing arugula and radishes. I love using fresh herbs from my garden, such as parsley, basil and cilantro. And I’d love to eat dark chocolate every day, but I resist that.

All of the foods I mentioned are bitter, so I must be a sociopath.

Researchers from the University of Innsbruck in Austria say that they’ve found an association between people who say they like bitter foods and antisocial personality traits.

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