Sociopathy is a disorder that doesn’t afflict a person as much as it does his/her family! Since the disorder is also partly genetic it afflicts the family for generations. This week I have heard many amazing and tragic stories and I would like to share a few of them with you. These stories are about the children of sociopaths.
I am working on a project to document symptoms of psychopathy in accused and convicted con artists. As part of this project I am interviewing the family members of con artists. That is how I became acquainted with the 17 year old daughter of a convicted con artist. She wrote me a nice note saying that if I wanted to know about her father, I should study conduct disorder (CD), because she discovered through her own reading that her father has that disorder. She wanted to know if I had heard of it.
This teenager did what many of you have done. She looked up symptoms of different mental disorders and found CD, she felt it described her father very well. CD is the diagnosis given to children who appear to be sociopaths. At 17, the girl figured out for herself that her father is a sociopath.
Even though this teenager is able to attach a label to her father’s disordered behavior, she is still coming to grips with what the diagnosis means. She is still trying to understand why and how from prison, her father was able to get a “girlfriend” to transfer money out of her mother’s bank account to his prison account so he could buy junk food at the prison store.
Another girl who grew up under the shadow of a sociopath is now nearly 30. She described very eloquently what it feels like to be confused about reality because your custodial parent lied to you every day about everything and alienated you from your mother. She is hoping for a way to heal and to feel she has a place in this world.
I also spoke to a grandma who is raising 3 boys in 3rd and 4th grade, her grandsons. She married a man many years ago who fathered two children with her before abandoning her. In spite of doing her best as a single mom, both of her children became sociopaths and were unable to parent. She is working very hard to provide for the three kids. Her task is made all the more difficult when the children visit with their sociopathic parents. She tried to keep visits limited to supervised visits, but was unsuccessful because the sociopaths “conned the court.” She believes one of the boys was just molested by his mother during unsupervised visitation. She can’t understand why the courts keep putting the children in harm’s way.
Tonight two students gave presentations in the University Child Development class I teach. The first student works for an agency that links female offenders with services to help them get stable rather than reoffend. She said that 75% of the women have young children and that many witnessed the criminal arrest of their mothers. Many also are abused when placed in the foster care system after mom goes to prison.
The second student told her own story. Her niece came to live with her many years ago at age 15 when she was orphaned due to her mother being killed in a car accident. Her niece had two children by two different men one year apart beginning at age 17. She has been very unstable with multiple arrests, is a sociopath and has been unable to care for the boys who are now 13 and 14. My student initially got custody of the youngest boy when he was small, but lost it to the child’s biologic father who is also a sociopath. She believes the father wanted his son because with the child in tow he had access to the homeless shelters for families. At the shelters there were plenty of women for him to pursue.
To make a long story short, my student got full custody of the boys when they were 7 and 8. Unfortunately much damage was already done as both children are emotionally disturbed. One boy has issues with violent behavior, animal cruelty and fire setting. He has been in residential placement for the last 2 years.
What point am I trying to make? Look at all the suffering and ruined potential sociopathic parents cause. On Friday 9/26/2008, 12 noon EST, Robin Hoffman author of I Take Thee, and survivor of a relationship with a sociopath, will be interviewing me on her radio show. We will speak about the needs of the children of sociopaths. To listen visit http://www.rcrn.info/ . You can also call in to ask a question or share your story 303 747-5121, show ID 226305.
ADDENDUMIf you didn’t hear the show you can still listen to it. It can be found in the archives 9/26 see http://www.realcoachingradio.com/node/24Thank you all for commenting and supporting each other. Perhaps what we need is a protective parent’s organization. I have collected literature about sociopaths as parents. There isn’t much. If you would like my file please feel free to write.