The first time I ever heard the word sociopath was in 1980 as a 19-year-old sophomore in Psychobiology at the University of Southern California. I attended a lecture given by Dr. Sarnoff Mednick, who presented the findings of his research.
I was amazed at his work, which clearly demonstrates that genetics is an important predictor of criminal behavior. I attended many lectures in college, medical school and beyond, however that presentation always stayed with me. I remember it as if I heard it only yesterday.
Psychologists say that our memories are affected by our present circumstances, so it is no wonder I have a strong connection to that lecture heard so long ago. For better and for worse, I am living with the implications of the reality of Dr. Mednick’s research.
My husband—likely a sociopath
Nearly 4 years ago, I stood on the street outside my office and watched as the police took my husband away in handcuffs. I went home to our son, who was only five months old. I was in a daze, not knowing what to make of what had happened.
In the following weeks, I received many disturbing and enlightening telephone calls from people who said, “I didn’t want to tell you this but”¦” and “Did you know he also did”¦” As the shock of all this information cleared, I was left with only one logical conclusion: I had a child with a person who is likely a sociopath. I held my infant son and wondered, “What if he is like his father?”
Researching how the disorder develops
Out of necessity, I have committed myself to knowing everything that can be known about how antisocial personality and psychopathy develop. I search the medical literature at least weekly for any related articles or research. I will leave no stone unturned to do everything I can to prevent this horrible condition from developing in my son.
It has taken a great deal of effort to sort through the volumes of technical information. I feel the responsibility to share my understanding of the scientific literature with other parents who share this life-challenge. There are many of us and we want the best for our kids.
I wrote a book for the public: Just Like His Father? A Guide to Overcoming Your Child’s Genetic Connection to Antisocial Behavior, Addiction and ADHD, and I also author a website: Parenting the At Risk Child.
Do you have questions?
If you are also the parent or grandparent of an at-risk child, perhaps what I have learned can help you. Are there things your child does that concern you? Does your child have a difficult temperament? Do you feel you should get help but don’t know where to turn?
I am grateful to Donna Andersen for inviting me to contribute to this Blog on a weekly basis. I invite parents of children at-risk to write with stories, questions and comments. My email address is [email protected]