By | May 13, 2012 95 Comments

New York Times article on child psychopaths

Today’s New York Times Magazine has an excellent article on the signs of psychopathy in children. It presents a heartbreaking story of parents trying to cope with a “callous-unemotional” 9-year-old, and covers much of the current research on the disorder in children. Very well done.

Read Can a 9-year-old be a psychopath? on

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Ox Drover

Mark Dadds, a psychologist at the University of New South Wales who studies antisocial behavior in children, acknowledges that “no one is comfortable labeling a 5-year-old a psychopath.” But, he says, ignoring these traits may be worse. “

I have worked with this type of kid in inpatient facilities and they ARE SCARY—but to fail to “label’ them because there is no effective treatment is I think STUPID!

If a kid were severely mentally retarded and there was no treatment there would be no one who would say, I think, “Well, we can’t LABEL this kid MR because he might spontaneously grow a brain and be the next rocket scientist”

I think to say that you can’t “label” this kind of kid because they might turn out to be the next Mother Theresa is about as crazy.

Of course not every kid that “acts” out as a child turns out to be charlie Manson or Hitler, but those that are over the top cruel should be labeled I think. The parents should have some support and help and the kids controlled so that they don’t hurt others. Like the one that threw the baby into the water to watch it drown.


I read the article.

I was a bit dismayed to see statements like this towards the end, “Early test scores, in other words, were necessary but not sufficient in predicting who ultimately became a violent criminal.”

If “violent behavior” is their understanding of what makes a P, then they are going to miss a lot of unrecognized/untraditional “violence” that Ps cause, e.g., destroying people’s finances, reputations, careers, family relationships etc.

It seemed to me that the article leaned to Ps as serial killers and murderers. I don’t know if that was due to the author’s lack of in-depth knowledge of the subject and/or if it was due to the researchers’ bias.

It was troubling to me to read that they are trying to “save” these children and make them “more normal.”

The two children that she talked about at that school, Michael (the main child discussed) and L. (the girl he liked) were chillingly and disturbingly calculating.

I’ve read in multiple places (I think one significant study was done in Canada) that therapy is very dangerous to give to a P because they learn how to use that information not to get well, but to be more convincing when they manipulate others.

Look at the example that they gave about the kids learning to bypass the school’s rule of one teacher for every two students. The kids developed a code word and at its utterance, the kids would all run away.

It felt to me that the researchers were horrified that there are people that can’t be helped or treated. Good people with good intentions, I guess, but if these kids can learn to develop code words to misbehave in school, what exactly is getting through to them?

I didn’t read anything in that article, which is not to say that it doesn’t exist and simply did not make it into print, that is showing any real success with the students in that school. If it was there, I’d appreciate it if somebody could point that out to me.

Yes, they are studying and working with these kids, but I think they’re going to need longterm, followup studies to see if and how this schooling impacted these children. For all we know, they may be unknowingly creating a school of highly skilled psychopaths.

Case in point, it certainly sounded to me like that statements Michael was making at home were simply Michael using the information he had gotten elsewhere to his advantage. The mother got that Michael is very manipulative.

For example, his father was going to discipline him and Michael came back with that his father was more bonded with Michael than the mother. It was Michael’s attempt to get his father to stop. What nine-year-old talks like that? He heard that from an adult, and it sounds like it came from a therapist, his parents, or other mental health worker.

I wonder how much Michael’s parents are aware of psychopaths as adults and the full range of the harm that adult psychopaths are capable of doing.

It’s perfectly understandable if the parents are just concentrating on children at this point. I really had to wonder if they are aware that Ps are much more than serial killers and rapists.

I was glad for the article because I think it’s a great start, but it left so much unmentioned. In the end, I thought the author was naive. But at least she’s on the right track.

Ox Drover

G1S, oh, you noticed the “bonded” statement as well. .NO normal 9 year old says “I’m bonded to dad” LOL it is a “therapy” atatement and something he learned in therapy. I thought too the kids getting acode word for “scatter like a bunch of cats” was totally showing manipulation rather than impulsive behavior and the fact that they could plot and plan and work together to get the desired chaos.

My son was NEVER like this, not even close, though he did look me in the eye the ONE time before puberty he did anything which was steal some money and a check and trade it for a radio and then when confronted deny deny deny in the face of the evidence. then when I spanked him for lying, he ran away from home. when we found him he looked me coldly in the eye and said “you cant watch me 24/7, I’ll do it again” and I knew he was right!

Later he was oppositionally definant and if I said go north, he went south, or if I said go south, he went north. He was showing “duping delight” in being definant and in doing things he knew were wrong (theft etc) He palled up with my foster son and the two of them together were as my late husband used to say “siamese twins joined at the rectum” The foster son later seemed to do pretty well, but ended up committing suicide about age 33-34. My life was chaotic at the time of his suicide but I think was about 2005 not long after my husband’s death in 2004.

I’ve seen other kids who were teenagers who decided to rebel to the point that they were involved in all kinds of bad behaviors and risky behaviors and a FEW of these kids might “straighten out” somewhat as adults, at least enough to stay out of jail….but these kids who were unbonded to anyone, and were totally off the wall by 7 or 10 years old….????

The father in this story though, apparently had had some behavior “issues” as a child as well…but supposedly didn’t have as an adult and was a “fully functioning adult” (??) we are assuming.

The whole thing is disturbing, but I am glad that there is some study going on with these kids. I do find it difficult that no one had the “guts” to come out and “label” these kids.


I remember my P sister getting caught doing wrong things when she was little and just standing there, totally cold, and not caring.

I would have been freaking out. I would have been terrified of the consequences.

What made it even more troubling to me was that my S mother seemed to admire my P sister for what she did and her reactions.

There have been a number of comic book hero movies lately involving schools teaching these “different” or “exceptional” children.

I’m not feeling warm and cozy over this school in Florida. I’m concerned that they’re just teaching these kids skills that will turn them into Super Ps.

They “hate to label” kids. Maybe they wouldn’t be getting funding if they did.

This father not really being upset or angry over what Michael was doing must be having an impact on the other children.


How much of the population actually knows what a sociopath really is? We know but how about those reading this NYTimes article? What do you think their opinions are on “what to do”?

And what to do? What would be the early intervention? I recently gave the book “Just like his father.” to someone who can use it. Her child is sweet, compassionate and gentle. But she can use it still, as it is a great book, making sure to make sure we influence and nurture kids.

Bad seed…..some kids just seem the spawn of Satan….no matter what is done as Oxy experienced. I know my own daughter got into drugs and acted sociopathic….Later off drugs, she became more her normal self but never the same. Now she is borderline and depressed, which, since she started drugs at 16, is hard to say if she always had been depressed.

Punishments won’t work, they will manipulate and echo the right responses….I remember as a child getting caught doing something I shouldn’t and lying about it. I lied and fooled my parents…..I felt shame and horrible about myself and thought I was a monster, a criminal, and very badly. I saw other kids lie and smile and lie again and again….acting like nothing happened…all normal….one of those kids tried to entice my little brother into the woods…..told him he would get ice cream. I was 8 and my brother was 6. This boy was 11..

My brother followed the boy and his brother, age 9 into the woods. I ran after them to protect my brother. In a clearing, the older boy said ” Lift up your arms and you will get the ice cream”..I yelled to my brother ” Don’t do it!!”….but he did and when he raised his arms….the boy started to take off his shirt. He said he was going to rape us. His brother started to take my pants down and I socked him real good in the nose and hit him in the stomach. (My Dad had taught me what to do as we had a bad neighborhood)….

I then said I am getting a grownup and telling his mother….They ran after me but I was too fast….I went to his mother and told what happened. She said she didn’t believe me. My brother came running with the boys ahead of him and I got him and took him home. My Dad went out and found those boys down the road, and being the year 1961, dragged the boys by the scuff of their shirts to their house and told the father he beat him up if his sons ever touched us again….

They never did. I learned how to fight at an early age and this was real fighting. I beat up all the neighborhood boys who bullied my brothers. Some were just bratty kids but some had to be labeled as budding sociopaths…They learned to stay away from us…what a way to spend your care free days of youth!!!

Ox Drover

Vision, I am sorry that you had to spend your youth physically defending yourself and your brother. I’m glad you were able to SUCCESSFULLY do so. In the 60s it was possible, I’m not sure that now it would be quite as easy for your dad to threaten the parents of those kids.

This idea that “all little kids are born innocent and a blank slate” is not totally GONE from our society. this idea that “everyone can be helped” (well “except maybe the completely mentally retarded or brain damaged, but they can still live in the community”)

In many areas a child with the IQ and mental abilities of a 2 year old is put in a class room with his age peers…because he has a “right” to learn in a class room of kids his age. Of course it is not taken into consideration that a child age 16 who is not potty trained or trainable and who cannot walk or talk might DISRUPT THE LEARNING of the kids who are NOT retarded.

This was the total REVERSE —-for years these kids were segregated into group homes (there are still some of these homes in Arkansas but they are considering closing them) The gravely mentally ill used to be segregated into institutions as well, and during the 80s, they were “freed” to live their lives on the streets in the community instead of in institutions…they filled up our prisons which now have a high percentage of the violently mentally ill as well as a high rate of the psychopathic “children” who grew up to be adults—-and the professional community is STILL RELUCTANT to label them anything and can’t even agree on the NAME OF THE DISORDER.

How can you label a kid a “budding psychopath” when the term PSYCHOPATH doesn’t exist in medical/psych diagnostic criteria?

The professional community has “danced around” the “labeling” question and the “treatment” question—-without anyone manning up and TAKING A STAND and people say “well they CAN be successfully treated”—AS MEASURED BY WHAT STANDARDS?

Maybe–MAYBE–as infants they can be “loved” into having a conscience,by a mother who is PRE-WARNED what genetic potential “junior” has from his psychopathic father. There was one mother here who was separated (and in hiding from) the psychopathic sperm donor for her child. she corresponded with me a while off the blog—-she was breast feeding her infant and trying to do EVERYTHING possible in God’s green earth to bond to her infant. to teach him to bond to her, to teach him empathy and instill a conscience in him.

HOW are you going to KNOW if she successfully “treated” a budding psychopath or if she just raised a kid who would have been “normal” anyway?

By the time these kids are seen in “clinics” they have been ACTING OUT severely for years before they are taken for testing etc. Even if say this mother had done everything she could have to prevent him turning otu to be a psychopath let’s say at age 5 or 6 years she started to see signs he might be a problem and she took him in, what are the professionals going to say—“whoops, you shouldn’t have potty trained him so harshly.” He would have been fine if you had just waited and let him potty train himself.

THERE IS NO WAY to KNOW OR FIGURE OUT what did or did not help that child with the genetic potential to become a psychopath either become one or not.

Look at Pit Bulls which have been bred for generations to be fighters….some of them ARE and some are not, depending somewhat on environment and training, but when one becomes violent and eats a child everyone who loves the breed (my husband’s grandson is one such) who says, “Oh, no they are a loving breed of dog, it is just how they are TRAINED”


Do they have the “running of the milk cows” in Spain before the bull fights and men jump out before these placid cows? Nah, they have the RUNNING OF THE BULLS and the fighting bulls are run through the streets and stupid youths and not so young jump out and run before them sometimes being killed. BY WHAT? Bulls BRED to fight and kill anything on foot in its environment.

Unfortunately, humanity has some GENES in our mongrel mix for “natural born killers” and also for “natural born con wo/men” and all the environments in the world in my humble opinion are not going to tame them down. Some environments might bring out the worst in any child as it grows, but at the same time, not even the majority of children who are sexually abused become abusers, many and most just become victims who suffer.

Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” pointed out that the victims of the camps became bitter and enjoyed hurting other things and people in response, some became quiet and suffered and died in silence, and others found meaning in their suffering. The genetic make up in my opinion is heightened somewhat in dogs, in people, in cattle….and humans…by the environment. “The same sun that hardens the clay will melt the wax” and so our environment plays on us depending on what is our “make up” but it doesn’t DETERMINE what our make up is. Wax won’t melt and clay won’t harden if they are not exposed to HEAT so I think that in a way, adversity brings out our cores…good or bad.

Though my son didn’t show signs like this duping delight displayed at such an early age as these children, they are scary. I can’t imagine the pain felt by their normal nurturing parent at the behavior displayed by these children on the far end of the bell curve at such an early age.

Where did these kids come from? Were they present in our society 50-100-150-500 years ago? If so, how were they handled? Treated? Labeled? Surely there must be some indication in the cultural literature about kids acting like this prior to 2000 if they are “here” now. How were kids like this sanctioned in the past? Was it successful? If so how so? If not, how not?

Was “Billy the Kid” and the other gun fighters one of these kinds of kids? Were the “gangs” in London, Belfast and New york composed of this kind of kid? Are the gangs in LA and New York and the Hell’s Angels composed of this kind of kid grown up? Is the mexican Drug cartel and the killers that work for it composed of this kind of kid?

Remember that Hispanic but American Citizen age 14 who was captured and had been a killer for the cartel since age 11 or some such and decapitated people without a second thought. Was he a kid like this? Was it his chaotic back ground or was it his genetic make up that made him into someone who killed and enjoyed it, instead of someone who would spend 16 hours a day on his knees picking lettuce?

I think we better start “calling a spade a spade” and getting the professionals into agreement on what to NAME THE FREAKING DISORDER, much less how to “label” the people (of any age) who show up with the characteristics.

I realize Dr. Leedom has a vested interest in believing that early intervention might change what happens with the kids….how early? what interventions? by whom? but at what age can we say THEY ARE A PSYCHOPATH, they ain’t gonna change?


I agree with you, Oxy. We need to call them for what they are.

What bothers me about determining “normal” is by whose criteria is that measured? I’ve seen enough therapists and other mental health professionals with major issues who refuse to address those things in themselves. Because they have degrees, suddenly they can speak for all of humanity to determine what is “normal?”

My older sister has a son who has cerebral palsy. He has then mental ability of a 2-year-old.

They turned him over to state care when his hormones started kicking in as a teen. He went after my sister and made a pass at his sister. They realized that he had no idea that what happening needed to be controlled or that he was doing anything wrong.

Now he is in his 40s. He is still had the mental capabilities of a 2-year-old. He has never talked because he can’t. He lacks the ability.


Wow, Oxy, so well said!!! I agree with you…

So so so true….so many mind boggling questions..

I think society labels one a psychopath after they commit horrific crimes

Not before mostly. So how can society label an “innocent” child. If the child does something morbid like murder…the label still doesn’t apply….although some are tried as adults….then maybe they might label….

My little 6 year old grandson who was labeled as the most compassionate,kindest, sweetest, caring boy and he is,trust me, decided to tell me his mother didn’t want him to brush his teeth at my house….I took him aside and explained to him that Mommy did want him to brush his teeth. That what he was telling me was not truth. How he should talk to me about the things he doesn’t want to do but he must not lie…I treated him with kindness as I explained. I told him he can tell me anything…I am Grandma….I loved him. I believe in God so I am teaching about loving God and He wants us to be talk truth..

I hope he understood. I am sure he did….He told me the other day that we have to tell the truth….He also will call me if his mother is frustrating him as she is depressed etc….We talk….Just being able to get someone to understand is probably a good thing for him…but I am doing my best to keep him as sweet and kind as he is….His teacher said he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body….

But how does a parent cope when the kid says he will do it again and sulk and then keep it up? How does a parent break through to them? If ever….how utterly devastating and how sad…

kim frederick

Well, I don’t know, but in my opinion, the mental health profession is to be credited for their interest in these kids and their desire to study them, in an effort to (possibly) understand adult psychopathy. We aren’t experts. We are survivors. We aren’t victims anymore. It seems to me that we should be applauding any effort to understand the disease… or disorder, if you prefer. At what age is it okay to write off a kid? How do you distinguish a fledgling psychopath from an angry battered child…or a spoiled child, or any child with a behavior problem, that is not a psychopath? Children are resilient, and they change rapidly, that’s the most blessed thing about kids. Should the cut off be at 5, or 8, or 10?

I’m not saying that a child that is totally out of control should not ring the alarm bells, but, I am one that believes they deserve every possible opportunity to grow and change, before they are labled. Furthermore, the fact that we refuse to lable them as hopeless, allows us, as humanitarians to seek a solution via continuing to take interest and study them, rather than just packing it up and walking away.

I am aware that there are real differences in the brain structures between normals and psychopaths, but who is to say that there is no intervention that can happen at a young age to lessen the severity of the disorder. If there is, I’m all for it. All I’m saying.

I agree. Children are children, that means they can change. The younger they are, the more potential to change. It would be foolish to write them off, if for no other reason than the opportunity to learn about human nature and the human mind.

If we can be curious and explore outer space at the cost of billions, why shouldn’t we be curious and explore the space between the ears? The need and the payoff is so much greater.

kim frederick

Well. Ox, kids are impressionable, and remember that the nazis had really young children enlisted in the SS. These kids were culterally trained to hate…normal kids. We can look at them from the outside and assume that they were psychopaths if it eases our minds, but, sigh, humanity has the capacity for both good and evil, and normal people can fall into the grip of a psychopathic system…children are the most easily seduced. Children, and desperate people and weakened people. Sometimes I tire of LF’s self rightousness, but then, maybe it’s because I know I have issues and am not one of the select few who are without psychiatric issues. In a way I think I’m one of the lucky ones because it keeps me humble and compassionate.

kim frederick

Vision, Why do you assume your GS was lying? Is it totally out of the question that his mother had some reason for not wanting her son to brush his teeth at your house?

kim frederick

Okay, guys. I’m triggered. Probably better for me to just go to bed. Knowing me, I’ll reneg tomorrow.

Had a strange mother’s day. A mixed bag. Ex lyin’ ass cheatin’ husband was there, and histrionic pound cake lady who tried really hard to make me feel guilyt for not answering her calls….ohhhhhhhhhhhh, don’t get me started. But, also saw my son and both my daughters…so, it was good.

kim frederick

My aunt told me this story: for years, on Christmas, or for Thanksgiving, when she would cook a ham, she cut the ends off of it. One year her Mother asked her, “Why do you always cut the ends off the ham?” My Aunt was befuddled. “Well YOU always cut the ends off the ham….” My Grandma answered, “yeah, but that was only because it didn’t fit in the pan.”

Another example: A child grew up hearing, over and over again, “never lay a hat on the table or a coat on the bed” so, for years, he didn’t. It was alsmost obsessisive. Then, finally, he asked his mother why. She could hardly remember even telling him that. Then, she remembered. For about a year, they had neighbors who were rumored to have head lice. So….instead of understanding the REASON why it was important for that one year, he had lived 40 years believing it was an unquestioned evil to lay a hat on a table or a coat on the bed.

Hey Kim,
Don’t be triggered! I agreed with you!

I read another Flannery O’Conner story today: Revelation.
Have you read it?

kim frederick

I know, Skylar. I think we are the true liberals.

kim frederick

Skylar, Ummmm, not sure. Can you give me a synopsis?

Ok, Ruby Tarpin is a woman in a doctor’s office and she judges everyone as being either better, the same or worse than her. Depends on race, wealth and disposition. Then she has a revelation that everyone gets to heaven because in the end, the values that we hold, good or bad, get burned off by the desire to be saved.

It’s a 7-page story, but I found it by reading an essay on Girardian theory.

I put some links on my website, in my last comment.

kim frederick

Skylar, I just googled, “Revalation,” and yes, I have read it. It was very good, as I recall. O’conner has a way of revealing the pettiness in the average joe. We can all learn something from her.

Well, I liked the story and what it says about comparing ourselves to others. But then I feel like, ok, wait. What about spaths?

I’ve always said, Spaths are good for one thing, as an example of how not to be. Is that being judgemental?
Isn’t our lack of judging how we ended up being taken in the first place?


I am 100% in favor of more programs, studies, and tons more research being done on children that have disturbing behavior at an early age and teenagers as well.

In MHO the very best way for the professionals to REALLY understand personality disorders better is to study it from the ground up…The begining. Children showing disturbing signs.

Dr Hare devoted much of his research to criminal psychology and although he has offered so much in terms of valuable information on the subject of this disorder….The fact is that when most people hear the word the word psychopath/sociopath they STILL interpret that to mean serial killer/murderer….And not the guy who could be living next door to them.

But I also think again just mho it is going to be a LONG while before we see the medical profession actually “labeling” young kids budding psychopaths. Because the medical profession is ALWAYS afraid to label kids. And rightfully & respectfully so because once labeled it is hard to reverse that label.

The Dx is only as good as the doctor doing the diagnosing. And I have in my own experience with trying to find a good mental health professional found too MANY that are pretty clueless to this disorder….

There was a time not so long ago that they wouldn’t even Dx a young person with bipolar disorder. Because they were afraid to label a young person with such a disorder & give children mood stabilizer meds that can often have bad side effects & were not even tested on kids under the age of 18 years.

Kids being labeled budding psychopaths also brings up ALOT more questions than answers. Troubling questions….
Like for instance kids that go through rebelious stages but do mature and change their ways? Oppositional behavior….this often escalates and gets worse but there are cases where kids do grow out of this….What about those kids? This is one of those things that really does require asking the questions….
In my opinion it is like putting an innocent person behind bars….If there is even the slightest DOUBT your not supposed to convict…This same responsibility would have to be to error in favor of a doubt with addressing kids and labeling them at a young age. What about the teenagers many of them have N self centered symtoms, and impulsive behaviors. But they don’t necessarily grow up to be personality disordered.

First of all how many people here on LF have encountered and/or had a relationship with an adult spath that has never been professionally diagnosed? Probably a good portion…

Most adult spaths don’t go willingly to get a dx…So there are probably more mental health professionals out there than NOT that couldn’t even properly Dx this disorder if they had spaths standing in line outside of their office.

At this point we will be lucky just to see more focus and research dollars being targeted to youth studies. I APPLAUD any and all efforts that would be made to study PROBLEM children and teenagers. And maybe come up with solutions to help SOME of these kids.

However at this point in time I do NOT necessarily think that the medical profession is READY to label them.
They still argue and debate among themselves over to much when it comes to this disorder….

The professionals FIRST have to all be on the SAME page before they can start Dx kids with a budding psychopaths labels in my opinion.
More research needs to be done and MORE HELP & PROGRAMS for parents who are raising these kids with extreme problems is needed first…

If the medical profession can confuse the public with what they have already done by having to MANY labels for adults with this disorder
psychopath/sociopath/anti-social personality….Just think the damage they can do with to many “labels” when it comes to kids???

As a parent who turned to the “professionals” & outside resources myself when my son was a teenager I got VERY little of what I really needed from them.
The system is really broken and until it is fixed parents are pretty much left feeling overwhelmed and really unprepared to KNOW what to do because the professionals are not prepared to give parents options of what they can do. They kind of pass the “buck”….And the insurance companys if you are lucky enough to have insurance have so much “criteria” that has to be followed that even if you have a concerned medical professional in your corner their hands are tied.

In the book Columbine there is an interesting “blurb” (I wish there was more information mentioned about it) of a juvenile treatment center in Wisconsin that started a program developed independantly but based on one of Hares own programs for adult psychopaths out of prison. The program Hare developed accepts that psychopaths will remain egocentric & uncaring for life but some can be willing to adhere to rules (to stay out of prison) if they are lead to believe it is in their OWN interest. “Convincing them that they can get what they want without harming others” is the key Hare said.
The juvenile program in wisconsin is based on these principals but also heavily addresses the psychopathic drive for instant gratification & control. A four year study in 2006 concluded that these kids were 2.7 times less likely to become violent than kids with high psychopathy scores in other programs. The program has had some sucess and awaits replication according to the author.

So obviously this program isn’t a prep school where these young men are someone you would want your daughter to marry. But it is still a relatively new idea that with the right program they are making some progress in curbing the violence with some of the kids that were certainly destined to violence. It is a start…..

kim frederick

Skylar, you have a way of cutting right into a person’s undealtwith conflicts. There is much I could say, but think I would do better to think this through a bit.
I will say that the word “judgement”, to me, at least, carries negative undertones…ie; “judge not, lest ye be judged”. I prefer the word, “discernment.” I can discern something without the one up, one down implication in the word, “judge”.

As much as I appreciate Hare’s contributions, that statement scares me:
“Convincing them that they can get what they want without harming others” is the key Hare said.

Spaths only WANT to hurt others. My spath has given up golden opportunities and tons of money because he doesn’t want a high profile. He flys under the radar, literally and figuratively because he wants carte blanche to hurt and to kill without retribution.

One of the last things he said to me when I left him, was, “I can disappear to where no one will ever find me.”

I wish.

Discernment is a good word. Can we discern between good and evil without judgement?

hmm…This little conundrum took me by surprise today, as I was looking for more writing on Girardian Theory. I had just written a blog about compassion and I wondered how much I was like Ruby Turpin… by judging the spath as being pathetic.

WELL THEY ARE!!! I just can’t think of them any other way!

There is some discussion that Ruby’s judgements were all about earthly values: Her works, her deeds, her looks, her disposition, her behavior as opposed to others’. These are compared to the salvation of spirituality. The discussion said that Flannery believed people were saved because they wanted to be saved by Jesus.

Well this scares me too because my spath prayed to be saved from his evil. He asked God to make him better and he would turn his life into saving others.

Then he kept poisoning me.

If more people experienced a spath, they wouldn’t be so quick to come to those conclusions. Spaths can be complicated too.


I agree with what you said. I think the problem with Hare although he spent over 35 years researching is that he spent most of those years with convicts….So my thoughts are basically consider the source. Still he contributed alot when alot wasn’t known.

However the program he made this statement for was not the spath who has never been in prison or operating under the radar and getting “away” with his crimes.
But men who have spent much time in prison & DON’T want to return to prison. So the “shiney object” he holds in front of them is the key to trying to teach them to not go back there I am assuming.

There were no “results” for Hares program mentioned in this book I read. So not sure if it has had any sucess or not?

Just that some of his (Hares) ideas were adapted in the juvenile program….

The program I was basically trying to mention was the one for young people. That has had some sucess….In curbing violence in youth.

By the way this book had alot of blogs and journal entries written by Eric who was the one that was Dx the P after the Columbine killings….And he didn’t hate his mother! At least not according to what he wrote. I was surprised because I expected him to in the begining of the book….

my spath never admitted to hating his mother. He was a “devoted son”. It was only at the end, when he was trying to off me, that his hatred for her spilt out. He called her on the phone and cussed her with the most vulgar words.

The year before that, he had gone to her home (he works near there in the summer for 2 months.) and vacuumed her house. Then he had her call and tell me about it. The reason, was because he NEVER lifted a finger around our house. I mean NEVER. If he ate a banana, the peel would lay on the couch for days, until I picked it up.

The only reason he was nice to her for so many years, is the 180 rule. He only portrayed the exact opposite of the truth, which is that he hated her. He refused to go to her funeral.

The other reason he did things for her was to make me jealous. I could see through it, but I pretended not to because I couldn’t understand it. It made no sense that he would want to hurt me, so I ignored it. This made him think I was really dense and consequently, he didn’t try to be as conniving as before. I’m glad for that, because it really helped me to understand him better.


It is my believe that spaths & other disorders can be VERY complicated.
Yes there are so many cookie cutter versions of what they do.

But there are still certain things that do complicate figuring them out.

I know people that would argue up and down that a pathaological lier just tells PURE lies.
But I would bet my life on it that when my son lies there is almost ALWAYS a kernal of truth in those lies. I might not be able to figure out always what that kernal of truth is….but it is there somewhere.

He might say “yesterday, blah. blah, blah, blah” And yesterday might be the only truthful word in the sentance….But that kernal of truth ONE WORD is also how he convinces himself that he isn’t lying.

To complicate things further I think he also lies just for the sake of lying and knows he is telling lies at these times.

But there are also times that he is lying but BELIEVES he is telling the truth. He is convinced that his lies are his truth.

Twisted stuff….

there are probably layers of lies and layers of beliefs for spaths.

If you consider that they envy us and want to slime us with their being, and then consider that they live a lie and believe their own lies, then it sort of makes sense that they want US to live in lies and believe lies.

So they will lie to us just so they can feel that we’ve been slimed like they are.

There is also the irony of the 180 degree lie. It actually IS funny, when you’re not the butt of an evil joke, to expect one thing and get something else. Dual meaning IS the essence of humor.

In native american mythology, they are called tricksters and symbolized by the coyote and the crow, which are wiley, clever animals.

So they get a joke when they’ve thought of it, but they don’t get the most BASIC of concepts when the joke is on them. My brother in law (a spath) didn’t understand that the Colbert Report is a comedy show. Despite the fact that it airs on COMEDY CENTRAL! And he’s a cop with a law degree (he’s always been a C-student, though).

Yeah, twisted as hell.


First of all, I think they’ve pretty well disproven that children are not resilient. I believe it’s one of those myths adults like to spin because it rationalizes away the harm that some adults do to children.

Second, the article, and this could have simply been due to the slant that the author gave it, did not address how the people living with these children are impacted. Parents need to deal with people blaming them for bad parenting, the “normal” kids are essentially overlooked because the family is focused on the P child (a classic model for a dysfunctional family dynamic.)

It isn’t the one child’s life who is at stake; it’s the family members around that child as well.

As somebody who has spent most of my lifetime being misguided and misdirected in therapy, because the mental health profession had not yet identified that I had Ps for a mother and sister, I really resent that I went through the abuse that I did and missed so many normal things in life trying to “at least meet halfway” with these people. All the therapy was about, “What’s your part in this? What are you doing?”

What was I doing? Believing the lies that the family situation would improve if I worked hard enough at it.

Call a duck a duck if that’s what it is. At least that way, the treatment will be appropriate for everyone. Some of it may not be pretty, but the majority should end up getting help. Some people are beyond help and we know who they are.

I didn’t pick up any progress being made in this school. The kids were in classes and being taught, but they managed to make their P behavior dominant. The kids did what they were being told, but is that progress? I doubt it. I think they were playing the system, learning what to do in order to get away with more.

I don’t see any difference in that school than requiring two people in marriage counseling to tell the other how their behavior hurts them. For normal people, they might think about it, feel remorse, and change. For a P, you’re just handing them a roadmap on how to hurt the person more. Oh yeah, they love these marriage counseling sessions. They get to put on a big act and they leave with a treasurechest of new ideas on how to hurt the other person more.

So, if I missed it, somebody please tell me where in that article they came right out and said that this school was making progress. What kind of progress?

Hate to label a child? We have so many incidents of children murdering other children or adults and doing lesser crimes. They murder, they know that they murder, they murder because they wanted to see what it was like to kill somebody and/or watch somebody die. What happens to these kids? They get a few years in a juvenile facility and then are released back into society with new names.

In my opinion, the resistance is due to not wanting to accept the truly horrific capabilities of some people.

We won’t label until we are willing to admit that we produce monsters and nothing can be done about them.

Don’t want to label a child too soon? I admit that children change and go through periods, but P behavior falls into a class by itself.

I suspect that a lot of not wanting to label a child too soon is due to the belief that with enough understanding and love, people will change. People are basically good. Some people don’t know that yet (that they’re basically good) so we have to change them to make them aware of all the good that is inside them.

Of all people, those of us here should know how off that belief is.

kim frederick

Good Morning LF. I woke up aware that I had been very judgmental of some of you, last night, even as I proclaimed my own humility. You have my sincerest apologies. I need to stay off line when I am feeling like that.

kim frederick

G1S, Yes, I think you’ve identified the crux of the debate. Whether they can be changed, fixed or modified, in any way. I understand, too, that it might be risky giving these kid’s therapy because they are being handed the tools with which to manipulate. Did I see any progress coming out of the program mentioned in the article? No. Not by the troubled kids. But the simple fact that someone is interested and making an attempt to find out is progress to me.

I maintain an agnostic view on this. I just don’t know.

kim frederick

Skylar, Have you read the short story, “The Ones Who Walked Away From Omalas”, by Ursula K. Leguin? Very good reading for your Girardian study of scape-goating. Not sure how it might work with the psychopathy question, but you might find something. You can probably find it on line.
I re-read about half of, “revelation” last night and will finish reading today. When I woke up this morning I recognized a bit of Mrs. Turpin in me. Ewwwww. But I guess that’s how it works. LOL


My personal belief is that there has has always been sociopathic/psychopathic behavior in human beings – it’s one of those unfortunate aspects of the human condition. I also believe that fact should not, under any circumstances, preclude acceptance that a child that exhibits obvious symptoms of sociopathy/psychopathy can be “cured” or “reprogrammed.”

Certainly, there are instances where strong boundaries and consistent conditions can create a “normal” human being, but this is a rare event. I don’t know if I am just more “aware” of sociopathy/psychopathy because of my personal experiences, but it seems to me that there are more and more people who fit the profile than I could ever have imagined in my wildest nightmares. I work closely with adolescents, pre-adolescents, and college students and I see – literally SEE – sociopathic behaviors in the majority of these kids that extend far beyond narcissism.

I think – for me, personally – I have to call it as I see it and keep my boundaries high and wide for everyone, regardless. And, I don’t believe that there’s “An Answer” with regard to child spathy/psychpathy.



I suspect that the estimates that we now have regarding the prevalence of psychopathy/sociopathy are very conservative.


I have mixed reactions to this article. I have raised an at times very challenging son, who is now 18. Currently, he seems to be getting his act together and I cross my fingers that he will be a normal-enough adult. I have been looking for signs of empathy/lack of empathy in him over the years… to try to figure out what/who I’m dealing with.

At no point during any of this, with all of the experts I consulted, therapists, school counselors, etc. did anyone do anything but look for how I (the mother) might be causing the problem: inconsistent discipline, too lenient, helicoptering, too anxious, too controlling, neglectful, “laissez-faire,” etc. Or because of the divorce. Or the ADHD.

No connections were made to his dad’s abusive/violent behavior and any possible genetic connection. The abuse was always viewed by the therapists anyhow as “it takes two” and what I might have done to provoke him. (and I bought that — thanks G1S, for pointing out once again how damaging this type of therapy is!). No one ever suggested a personality-disordered father. Rather, I was the crazy one and he (the dad) was the calm, charming, mild-mannered one, to every single expert we consulted.

Later on I got wise… in the past couple years I dared to suggest to my son’s therapist that I think his dad has a personality disorder… and the therapist told me I have no business or right to diagnose, and besides it is not helpful to our son for me to be trying to “shift blame” to the dad. Rather, I should be looking only at my part in “creating the dynamic.”

I am so sick, sick, sick of all this blaming of me. How many times i have tried to “meet them halfway” (them = someone with a probably personality disorder).

Anyhow… today I am dealing with one of my daughters who is nearly 16, who has a pattern of not taking her share of responsibility in relationships. For example, she is mostly well behaved, but one day “has an attitude” and a teacher questions this attitude with raised eyebrows, so all of a sudden the teacher is “a beatch” and my daughter is behaving as if she has a perfect right to be rude to people and then blame them for reacting to her.

(hard to express that — I just mean that, it is very difficult to raise kids! I cannot write off any of my kids. I will try and try and try until they are adults, hoping I can help steer them in a good direction).

I take responsibility for my parenting, like it sounds like the parents in the article are doing. But there is no one right formula to follow. It takes energy and courage and patience, and blaming parents for extraordinarily difficult children is NOT the way to go.

These difficult kids DO exist, and we do not have the social and institutional structures in place to really deal with them. There is a lack of understanding and support for parents. Sometimes one misguided “expert” can steer the family in a wrong direction that takes years to recover from. A misdiagnoses, wrong prescription, or just barking up the wrong tree and trying interventions which do nothing at best, or worse yet, exacerbate the problem.

It did sound to me a lot like that’s what this summer camp might do: sure, it’s a research study disguised as a summer camp — but might be a training ground for bullies, even as it informs the research and points in directions for new research.


20years, I know a number of parents who had difficult children – my eldest son was “difficult” and finally diagnosed BPD Cluster B.

What I have seen in my own personal experiences, and in those related to me by other parents is what you described: who’s to blame for this kid’s issues? How DARE a parent question a professional? Well, we DARE to because we KNOW the child and have experienced their behaviors. It’s the same when we’re dealing with medical doctors – how dare we tell a physician about our own bodies?

Interventions might have been useful at one time, but in a culture where not caring is lauded as an attribute and REWARDED with cash and celebrity, it’s a moot point, now.

Research is just that: re-searching. I always find it morbidly humorous when reading about “research results” because those results are concocted and controled. Let’s take some information from parents of children who exhibit glaring sociopathic traits – let’s hear what THEY have to say about their experiences in attempting to manage and teach these children. Let’s hear THEIR take on how effective rules and boundaries are. Better yet, let the researchers take these kids into their own homes for a year without ANY safety/security and talk about their experiences at a later date.

Research, my arse! LOLOLOL


Amen, Truthspeak!

Over and over and over I think (and say) that the VOICES of the people in the trenches of relationships with sociopaths (siblings, parents, children (budding ones, there LOL), and also in bullying situations such as school and workplace… it is the VOICES which are missing.

After so many years, I firmly believe I AM qualified to diagnose. No, not diagnose in the sense of I am a licensed board professional who can write prescriptions, but I can — YES — diagnose many of my own illnesses (I am very familiar with my own body and what is normal and when something is “off”) — and I can also — YES — spot the traits and connect the dots and ESPECIALLY I am the one who is around when the mask slips, and I am in the best position to note the patterns which develop over time and may take years to become aware of.

But they would rather not listen to me.

For a long time, their not listening caused me to doubt myself and sow seeds of confusion in me. But not anymore. I feel that I have a right to figure this stuff out for myself. I’m not stupid.

And that is one of the things great about Lovefraud. We are not a stupid bunch of misguided people. We live these experiences and we think about them and we are articulate and can share them with each other and that is GOLD. We can learn from each other. We listen to each other and respond in compassionate, thoughtful ways. No one here tells anyone else that they are stupid or not qualified to figure this out for themselves. This is a really unusually great community.

So as far as raising kids goes… no, I will not write them off until my “job is done” and I get to figure out when that is (I plan to raise them to adulthood and do the best job I can). But I know it is not all up to me. They have other influences in their life besides me — so “blame the mother” is not a game I’m going to play.

And no one really knows what I’m dealing with, except for me.

I know my teenagers are still susceptible to my influence; I see signs that they do take in the information and my “guiding” them… even if they don’t seem to “on the spot.” So it’s a really tough job, but I’ll just keep on with it for awhile.

My heart goes out to every parent dealing with a child/teen exhibiting “difficult behavior.” Because you just don’t know the cause of it. It’s very hard to help/treat/guide if you can’t figure it out. Some things are temporary and situational. Other things are deep-seated patterns, probably highly genetic. And some others might be biological, caused by (possibly cured by) their diet… or meds… but “blame the mother” needs to be retired.

And… this is the day after mother’s day, but just one final thought: during all those times I was (wrongly) blamed, my stress levels, anxiety and guilt feelings increased because of the blaming. I STILL dug in and tried to do my best parenting job (didn’t throw in the towel — this is not a job you get to quit) — but why on earth do people/society want to pile MORE stress on top of an already stressed mother by blaming her; she is doing the best she can with a difficult child? It’s not right.



Oops – you forgot one in this, “Over and over and over I think (and say) that the VOICES of the people in the trenches of relationships with sociopaths (siblings, parents, children (budding ones, there LOL), and also in bullying situations such as school and workplace” it is the VOICES which are missing.”

The courts.

The voices are missing in the courts with the judges and the lawyers.

And they add to the stress, too.


Kim Fredrick: LF somtimes is like a sounding board even when we are feeling upset….I didn’t take offense at all by your question as to how I really knew my grandson was lying….

BUT as strange as this sounds, after I wrote my post on that, later on that night I got to thinking. I had not read your post as of then, only now. But I got to thinking “Did he really lie?”….

The reason I started to think on this was I remembered that when I picked him up to go to school several times in the early morning, I had kissed him and smelled his breath. It didn’t have that toothpasty smell, only the morning breath….

Maybe, he was late and didnt’ have time and his mother said not to worry, you don’t need to brush your teeth….

But, he had time at my home, and he might have thought he didn’t have the time so he said his mother said he didn’t have to brush them….

But you are right….we shouldn’t be so quick to pounce on our kids, but really question them…I hate accusing kids or adults before we really know….

Assuming he lied…..I didn’t think it over at the time….


G1S……SO TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

20years, they blame parent’s and choose not to hear the Truths because the alternative is too horrible to comprehend: a seemingly innocent child maintains malevolence by default.

I hold a newborn in my arms and feed him from my own breats. I shower him with love and expectations. He is breathtakingly beautiful to look upon – everyone takes notice of him. Lurking behind those sparkling eyes lies an abyss of violence and malice. It’s too horrible to contemplate.


You are right, G1S — must have blocked that one out of my memory for a moment, LOL. Worse abuse in the courts than at the hands of my spath ex-husband.

Truthspeak, because we dare to speak the ugly Truth — our voices must be discounted. We are saying something they don’t want to hear — so we must be idiots. Or making excuses because we don’t want to take our share of the responsibility.

Everyone is so wedded to this idea of “shared responsibility.” I look at it differently: I am responsible for how I view things, or my perspective, and the actions I take or the thoughts I think as a result of how I see things. Then, I take responsibility for noticing the impact I seem to have on the world and people around me. If I seem to have an unpleasant effect on others, I ask myself why, and if this is something I can accept or not, want to change about myself or not. Finally, as accepting my share of responsibility, I pay attention to my own feelings and the effects that others appear to have on me — and expect others to accept their share of responsibility in this shared relationship or interaction. And if they do not, then I do not accept it for them. I maintain boundaries, I point out that I will go only this far but no further. That part is theirs.

So that’s what it is… when I speak up and say, “this person is NOT accepting their share of the responsibility” that is NOT me “shifting blame.”

Shifting blame is what THEY do when they try to pin 100% of the blame onto me. And that’s not right.

It is such BS — yes, this was actually said to me when I said “my husband hit me — our marriage was physically abusive” — they said, “well, that’s your perspective.” I said, “Listen, he may not see it that way, or he may but he might be lying about it, but there is such a thing as objective truth here: he either hit me or he didn’t. And he did. I am telling the truth; he may be lying, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It does not mean that the truth lies somewhere “in between our shared perspectives.”

I hate that “thank you for sharing your perspective” BS.

Even innocent (and malevolent) children have a shared responsibility for the interactions between themselves and their mothers/parents. The relationship IS co-created between the two. Pity the poor child who has a narcissistic mother/parent. And also, pity the normal mother/parent who has a narcissistic/budding sociopath child.

wow. wow. thanks, that is so profound.


A good part of what I was trying to say is what was mentioned in your post G1S….In my own quest to find good therapy both for my son when he was in puberty and myself shortly after….The therapist my son had was an absolute JOKE. Except of course there was nothing funny about it.

I myself couldn’t find a decent therapist that could really help me in my situation either.

And so basically my position in this matter really is that until the professionals KNOW & get on the same page more about personality disorder in children they wouldn’t be able to properly Dx it.

Once I had to confront my sons therapist about how my son had manipulated him into believing that he had “turned himself around” and was passing all of his classes at school….And was having no behavior problems at school anymore…Or at home.
This was long AFTER I had signed a disclosure for the therapist to check both his grades and behavior issues with the school at his convienience…Therapist had been informed by me in the first initial visit that I had with my sons therapist before I brought my son was that my son was a compulsive liar. And a manipulator….

So the therapist never checked with the school, never checked back with me, just “believed” my sons stories. And the entire time things were escalating at home and at school and I am thinking it is time to have another one on one with him.

He was a younger guy had a son about 8 or 9 years old and his specialty was not kids or teenagers but actually court ordered alcoholics! Which I thought was extremly interesting when I later found out that my 15 yr old son had manipulated him so easily??? WTF. Court ordered alcoholics are a pretty manipulative bunch. Was this guy just plain stupid? No maybe not but he was certainly arrogant. And that arrogance was a good part of the problem.

When I asked the therapist what was going on and found that he thought that my son was doing so much better because that is what my son had been informing him….I told him that my son was informing him wrong. He was lying…That’s what liars do. They lie. I asked him why he didn’t double check with the school seeing as that is why I signed a release form so he could do that.

He said he needed to “trust” his client…
I about lost it at this point….And told him that he had been manipulated by a 15 year old and there was no reason for this because he had full ACCESS to talk to the school counselor & see his grades on edline any time he needed to. And if he had done his JOB properly he would have known that my son was failing every single class & having more issues both at school and at home.

He arrogantly waved his arm to “point to” his bookshelf filled with his many volumes of medical books…..As if to “inform” me (without saying a word) that he was, after all the professional in the room? He is lucky I didn’t go right for his throat…Because I don’t “do” arrogance well. And I was really at my wits end.
After this incident my son was FINALLY able to see the psyciatrist, which incidentally in order to see the p-doc I NEEDED the request form from the arrogant therapist. Something I had been asking for but now I insisted.

Once my son saw the p-doc a few times he wasn’t so easily manipulated. He nailed all of the things that the therapist overlooked and guess what? My son would no longer go to the appointments.

As others here have said….It is my belief now that my sons therapist was “blaming me” as the mother because of course I am sure that part of my sons manipulation with him included him telling his therapist that I was a “terrible mother”…Because that is something my son told me himself.

It is a good part of the reason I had signed the release form for the school so that the therapist could check with a “third party” other than myself or my son to hear another perspective of my sons behavior.

This “terrible mother” did after all bring her son to a therapist because I KNEW I needed help, and he needed help, and I was in way over my head at the time.

A good therapist is worth their weight in gold….But a bad one also can do more damage than good.

The last thing I needed at this time in my life was to be beaten down more than I already was, and misdirected….

Ox Drover

Kim your post above where you mentioned you are “not one of the lucky few without psych issues”—OKAY, NAME ONE PERSON WHO POSTS HERE ON LOVE FRAUD DOES NOT HAVE PSYCH ISSUES?

Everyone with psych issueS raise their hand:


I am FOR THE MOST PART, handling these issues, but from time to time I lose it and don’t handle them as well,, or I get sucked into something because I have an issue I am not aware of or one of the old issues (enabling mostly) crop up again and I take on something that is not my business.

Kimmie go back and read my article about comparing ourselves, our losses and our assets to others. Baby if ever there was anyone who was a GREAT comfort to me on Love Fraud it was YOU and I could look up to you.


You said : “Let’s take some information from parents of children who exhibit glaring sociopathic traits ”“ let’s hear what THEY have to say about their experiences in attempting to manage and teach these children. Let’s hear THEIR take on how effective rules and boundaries are. Better yet, let the researchers take these kids into their own homes for a year without ANY safety/security and talk about their experiences at a later date. ”

No truer words have ever been spoken. The research on these children/teenagers should BEGIN with the parents who are struggling to raise them.

And I have to admit that when the smug, arrogant therapist that my son saw, was “judging me” I thought more than once…Buddy, if you could walk in my shoes for ONE MONTH, take my kid home with you for just 4 weeks…..I’ll bet you would burn those friggin books on your damn bookshelf.
Because those books you read wouldn’t prepare you for the “real deal”….

kim frederick

Thanks, Oxy. I was a little angry last night when I came home. And lonely, I guess. I got on line and decided I would be very opinionated, and when I do that I always feel bad and have to aplogize.

I don’t know where the line in the sand should be drawn. I don’t know where one problem crosses the line into hopelessness. This is the great question, I think. I can’t SEE into the brains of people snd see what areas light up, and which areas are like great black caves.

Coming from the back-ground I do, I have a strong resistance to giving up on anybody…I am well aware that there is a point when we must, and that real psychopaths are an incurable lot…And, I am not saying that any of our mother’s here on LF were bad, or negligent or abusive in anyway…That is to say that I’m sure there is such a thing as a fledgling psychopath, but how do we know for sure which child is and which child isn’t? At what point do we give up? And when we do give up, what do we do with them? At least, if we keep the uestion open, we can study different approaches. If we don’t foreclose on them too soon, we might learn about something that can help. I don’t know. I just remain hopeful.


You always have the voice of reason here on LF. And once more you always recognize when you are triggered. I have heard you say that more than once. That something was triggering you and you had to re-group before you respond. I still sometimes need to identify what triggers me and stick my foot in my mouth…..When I should have stepped back and regrouped!

Don’t be so hard on yourself 🙂 Progress not perfection.
Towanda to you!

the problem also remains that parents have been known to scapegoat their kids. Mine did. Grace’s mom has. Oxy’s mom has.

Their is story in “people of the lie” in which the parents (fine upstanding citizens) take their boy in for therapy. He is depressed. His brother committed suicide a couple of years earlier. They don’t know what is wrong.

Well it turns out that they gave him the shotgun that his brother had used to kill himself, for the younger son’s birthday that year.

Dr. Peck figured out who was the real source of the problem, but they had tried to make the kid look like the problem.

Spaths do everything in hiding. None of them announce their evil intent. They flip everything 180 degrees and switch places with their victims. So it is really hard to know who the problem is, unless you have insight into their home lives. Like a hidden camera.

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