By | October 10, 2008 249 Comments

Sociopathic children and psychopathic traits during childhood

This is a very tragic story left by one of our readers:

My daughter was misdiagnosed with ADHD. Then bipolar disorder, then Oppositional Defiance Disorder. I stormed out of her psychologist office when she told me that she saw something “dark” in my child. That was when she was 7. When she was 8, her sociopathy increased and she purposely drowned my poodle. She also tried to smother my baby by my second husband. The strain of her and my carrying the baggage from my last relationship has driven he and I apart and we currently trying to file for divorce.

She steals daily, has even stolen as much as $500 from my wallet. I lock things away, and she will simply pry open the lock, break the lock or disable locked windows so she can climb in for access to everything. My son sleeps with his father at night at his own home, while I sit here at night, catching her lurking through the dark, stealing whatever she can get her hands on (i.e., money, jewelry, food, perfume). If I try to discipline her, she simply runs off and screams to the top of her lungs “don’t kill me”, which causes the neighbors to call the police. Just this morning, I discovered money missing and brand new snacks I bought last night for the baby and all of us to share GONE. Every single day she steals. I have to sleep at night and when I do, she lurks in the dark, prying open things, destroying things.

It’s like if she is alone for a moment, she does something way over the edge. Like this morning, I caught her chopping blooms from cacti I planted with a mini shovel, I mean she looked like the LAST SAMARI. I am being victimized everyday and feel like she is the hunter in my home and I am the hunted. I have arranged for an IEP at her school and it is my goal to get her placed in a facility in Utah where they house and treat child psychopaths or excuse me, Oppositional Defiant children because liberal America will not allow her to be called what she truly is until she turns 18.

The issue of likely outcome is more difficult in child psychiatry than it is in any other aspect of medicine. Think for a moment, if a child has cancer and we know that 65% of children with this cancer die, what does that tell us about our particular child? I chose the number 65% because that is the percentage of conduct disordered teens that went on to develop antisocial personality as adults in one study.

When we consider studies of conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and symptoms of psychopathy in children we have to consider that most of these studies are done on a special population of children that are being treated at University based clinics. So the information about prognoses we get is likely pessimistic. Sill not even these studies show that 100% of children with these symptoms have them into mid adulthood.

I would like to tell you about three children, I watched grow up. These children show us that we have to be careful about trying to predict adult personality function on the basis of what we see in a child.

The first child is a neighbor of mine. When she was 7 she was so fearful and shy that she refused to go on play dates. I spoke to her mother about this and her mother indicated that symptoms of anxiety tended to run in their families. Well, I saw that girl again at 14 and I can tell you she is “popular” and not at all shy. I asked her mother about what happened. Her reply was, “Yeh, she grew out of it.”

The second child is a boy who was a sibling of one of my daughter’s friends. At 7 he was a mess, very impulsive and easily angered. So much so he got into trouble in religious school. At 13 this boy is controlled and polite, a fine young man.

The last child is a boy I grew up with. I was always an animal lover. This boy’s behavior disgusted me because at 7 he captured lizards, stuck sticks through their mouths and killed them. He then put his kills in the street for cars to run them over. I hated that kid! Well, he did not grow up to be a psychopath. He is a loving husband, responsible father and business owner.

Video of 7 year-old Latarian

After introducing this background, I would like you to watch the video of Latarian Milton, a 7 year old who stole his mother’s car. (This video was recommended in one of our reader’s comments and I appreciate that.)

Go to
This boy demonstrates for us what psychopathic personality traits look like in children. He shows no remorse and says he enjoys doing bad things. He doesn’t care about the consequences of his actions because for him the fact that he gets enjoyment justifies everything. The comments left on Youtube reveal that many people have one of two incorrect views of psychopathy in children. The first is that it can be cured by beating the child. The second is that it invariably leads to a disordered adult.

If there was only a 10 percent chance that a child’s cancer could be cured, most people would still advocate that the child get aggressive cancer treatment. The odds for disordered kids are at least that and yet many people say they should be written off and secretly believe they should either be euthanized or imprisoned for life.

What should be done to help psychopathic children?

Psychopathic children do have the same issues as psychopathic adults. Namely, their pleasure system is warped and their impulse control system is defective. The difference is that these two systems are more changeable in a child than they are in an adult.

Psychopathic children enjoy “being bad” (to quote Latarian in the video above) more than they enjoy anything else. What they need is to be taught how to enjoy loving human connections. If they can learn to enjoy loving, then they have a chance at developing a modicum of empathy and conscience. This is where our pessimistic view of psychopathic children can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Studies show that the parents of such children often dislike them. The people who advocate writing off these kids do not help these parents. Parenting an at-risk child is the most difficult task many will ever have to face.

We have to support the parents of psychopathic children and encourage them to try to find something in the child they do like and can connect with. Psychopathic children require constant adult supervision and affectionate adult companionship.

Psychopathic children also need to be taught about the nature of impulses and morality. They need verbal lessons as well as real life lessons in the form of consequences. Studies show that when parents of psychopathic children dislike them, they often pull back and do not provide the consistent teaching of impulse control these kids need.

There is also another side to the prognosis coin. That is that many children who appear to be “normal” grow up to be psychopathic. I know this from two sources, scientific studies and people who write me. Dr. Hare has said the antisocial behavior that leads to sociopathy/psychopathy begins during childhood and adolescence. I agree with him, but the problem is that this antisocial behavior can take many forms. For example, lying, stealing and being aggressive toward a sibling are all behaviors that many sociopaths showed during childhood. Many children engage in these behaviors and so again we may consider them “normal.”

How can we prevent sociopathy in adults?

Behavioral science has revealed a great deal about what we can do to give all children the best chance. I was at a conference this week and one of the speakers noted that the State of California bases its estimate on the future need for prison space on the reading scores of children in 3rd grade! In addition to effective parenting, at-risk children need to have quality education. Right now our practice is to take troubled children and group them together for school. Not only do they all then get a substandard education, but they get to teach each other more antisocial behavior!

As a society, we are far from doing our best for psychopathic kids. Some children will develop disordered in spite of the best parenting and professional help. YOU WILL NOT KNOW IF YOUR CHILD IS IN THAT GROUP UNTIL YOU HAVE GIVEN HIM THE BEST PARENTING AND PROFESSIONAL HELP AVAILABLE. Medication may be necessary for some children. If you have done your best as parent and your child still has problems, forgive yourself. Rest assured that his problems would be much worse if you had not done your best.

I want to end with what I believe are the 10 attributes of effective parents:

Summary of Effective Parenting

  • Effective parents are warm and empathetic.
  • Effective parents reward good behavior.
  • Effective parents establish clear rules and enforce them through limit setting.
  • Effective parents model good behavior.
  • Effective parents teach impulse control, respect and values.
  • Effective parents surround their children with positive influences.
  • Effective parents protect their children from entering into situations they won’t be able to handle.
  • Effective parents teach age appropriate life skills.
  • Effective parents have fun with their children.

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I can relate to the story by one of your readers more than almost anything else posted on this blog.

I know what she is going through. Right now, one of my children who unfortunately inherited both the inclination to sociopathy, and the intelligence to fool almost everyone, is temporarily living in my home. Why? Because this child is physically ill, penniless and is needed by siblings to testify against my ex, the abuser of them all.

At night I lock up my purse with all my checks, money and prescription drugs in my vehicle, then I sleep with the keys in the pillowcase under my head. I have sold or hidden all the firearms in the house.

And I count the days until the testimony is over. I did my best. I tried with this child. But I failed. Nothing I tried worked. Nothing.

In endure this latest encounter with my sociopathic child and hope that I am not in too much personal danger. Because it is something I can do for my other children–this determination to see that my ex comes to justice for all his crimes against them.

I can sympathize with anyone in a similar situation but offer no good advice, no happy solution. You endure–you endure and endure and endure– raising a child like this. You try–and you hope and you hope and you hope–but most of the time you fail and you experience bitter disappointment. The pull of evil is just too strong for someone genetically inclined to go that way.

I raised a large family–and although I know that each child is different and each parent-child interaction is different–still, there was not a great enough difference in my own actions and attitudes toward this child to account for the vast difference in behavior. Sometimes it just happens AND EVEN WHEN YOU RECOGNIZE IT early and do your best to counteract it, sometimes it still wins.

(This is why my betrayal by the ex, and the subsequent revelations about his own particular brand of sociopathy and evil, were so devastating to me. I already KNEW about sociopathy. I had already STUDIED the literature, as I tried in vain to find some way to reach my “at-risk” child. I was utterly dumbfounded when I discovered not just the one I knew about, but the other one who had me totally fooled, right next to me.)

May God be with the parents of at-risk children, because any solution created by human brains MAY NOT BE ENOUGH. You truly are fighting for their souls, and you don’t always win.

In the ideal situation the child who is acting out anti socially should stay in home, if too dangerous to do so – they should interact with parents everyday.

I wholeheartedly agree- children are malleable. I feel sorry for that little girl, she is a little girl. A broken home is a cross and to have a nature that is impulsive to begin with makes that difficult.

I would never give up on a seven-year-old child…ever.

Ox Drover

I too raised a psychopath, who has murdered once and tried to murder me. I also raised two young men who are fine men. One biological and one adopted, and have had foster kids in my home from time to time.

I feel for this mother very very much. To have a child SO YOUNG that is so problematic is horrible—that’s the only word I can think of.

I have seen children like this in an inpatient setting, and while many of them may “grow out of it” many don’t. I wish I had a magic wand or a crystal ball but I don’t. I have had experiences with children who were so determined to do the “bad” thing that they were dangerous to go to sleep with in the same house.

I do know one thing though, when the PARENTS are so stressed that they “can’t see the trees for the forest” there needs to be SOME INTERVENTION IN THE FAMILY before the entire thing self destructs. The parent, and the child too, need respite from each other as the situation is OUT OF CONTROL. Not placing blame on the parent at all.

This past year when my P son and his cronnies were trying to kill me (at least, but probably other members of the family would have been targeted after I was gone and when I fled and they couldn’t find me, they tried to kill my son C) in any case, I WAS FREAKING OUT, TOTALLY INSANE, UNABLE TO THINK OR FUNCTION. I can only imagine how the mother of this child must feel after years of living with such a situation.

I second Tood’s prayer that God be with the parents of at-risk children.

I understand the pain of realizing (finally) that your child, the child you planned for, gave birth to, nursed and loved is a monster beyond redemption. I understand the emotional and yes, PHYSICAL PAIN, of turning your back on that child (even though they are now an adult) and emotionally burying that child in your heart, as if they were dead, to at least preserve the memories you had of when the child was an infant, a toddler, and a young child that was the shining light of your life. I sort of feel like my child died and his organs were donated, but the MAN who has his organs is a monster, and not my son, any more than it would be if his kidneys or his eyes had been donated instead of his whole body.

The memories of the “morphiing” years when he quit being the shining child and became the monsterous adolsescent, then murdering man, those were the most difficult years of my life and I held on to toxic hope for 20 years after I should have “let go”—but I guess I thought the letting go was so painful I couldn’t handle it, but I know that the NOT LETTING GO was MORE PAINFUL and became so painful it was LET GO OR DIE. I chose, finally, to let go and live. It was so hard, harder than anything I have ever done.

Unlike Tood, I have my own monster out of my house, but I keep the guns CLOSE because I never know as long as he is alive when he might send another of his friends to try to kill me, for revenge, if no other reason. Both of my other sons and I are armed, or within reach of a gun at all times, day and night, unless we are inside a federal building or some other facility in which it is illegal to have a weapon, which isn’t very often.

After my son killed the 17 year old girl he was involved with in some criminal activity (I’m to this day not sure of all of the extent of it) but from what history I know of her it sounds to me like she was most likely Borderline Personality Disorder or Conduct disorder herself, he had a long history of petty theft from her family, stealing the family car, stealing credit cards from her family members and running up big bills and then when she was caught being “oh, so sorry” and the rinse and repeat. She had no idea that her “ratting out” my son would result in her death. But when he did kill her and was arrested, if I could have, I would have traded places with her mother, and had my child dead and hers in prison for the murder. Yet, I feared if they executed him (which was a possibility since it was premeditated) that I could not stand the pain of his execution, yet, now, I don’t think it would bother me. I know that may sound harsh, but my “child” is already dead, and the “man” with his organs isn’t my son, but a monster like Bundy, or Manson, and the only reason he hasn’t become a serial killer is he was caught after the first murder.

God bless you Tood, and I hope you are able to get the justice your X-P deserves.

God bless the parents of all children, but especially those at risk. Peace.

I agree. The toddler should not be victimized orput in any contact-but the parents can be and should be.

I guess- to me every life has an inalienable value. A child that age is not evil, is vulnerable. If my child had cancer, I’d have to sacrifice more time for them.
It’s unfortunate, but yes…the at risk child would take more of everything.


The originial poster said her possible P child is now 10 years old. Ok, she not only killed the poodle, but when she was 8 she tried to smother her baby brother. The poster said the baby, who would now be toddler, is sleeping each night at the Father’s house.

I agree with everything Dr. Leedom said about trying your best with parenting, trying to find things you like about the child and do postive reinforcement etc, and think it was an excellent article. But on the other hand, I can also understand why some parents who have children as extreme as the one described in the original post, might have a really difficult time liking the child.

The original poster indicates she has the child in therapy, and she is also in therapy, she’s working with the schools, trying to get the child in some treatment program for little P’s etc. I wouldn’t want to “give up” on the child either and would want to try everything possible.

But my question, and one which I wish Dr. L had addressed is, “What about the OTHER at risk child?” The toddler can’t live in the same home with the Mother because it is in danger (based on the little 10 year old trying to smother it two years earlier, and doing things like drowning poodles). If the toddler lives in the home, then IMO it is clearly in danger from the little girl. So, the toddler IMO is an at risk child also because the Mother is having to spend most of her time coping with the 10 year old, and the toddler can’t even live in the same home with its own Mother.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here, other than it seems to me that yeah, everything possible should be done to help the little 10 year old, but it also seems to me that there has to be some sort of balance and limits and it shouldn’t be done to the extent or sacrifice of everyone else, like the toddler.


Yes, I agree, Holywatersalt, I definitely agree with you about the parents needing to be in constant contact with the little girl. I suppose the point I was trying to get at is that although you want to devote as much time as possible parenting the little P, should it be to the point that you sacrifice a marriage and your other child who also needs you and should have a fair shot at life, in order to keep the P in the home with you.


Although, thank God, I’m not in a situation where I would have to make that decision, I “think” I would be also consider the effect on the other child and his rights, and his emotional health of not being with me and any future emotional/mental health repercussions that might have for him, in addition to consideration of the psychopathic child”s needs . I mean, I would do everything possible to get help for the psychopathic child and to be there for her and devote as much extra time as I could, but I’m not too sure I would carry it to the extent of no one else even being able to live in the household because of her and the danger she would be to them.

It probably sounds horrible for me to say, but I think I would try to find the psychopathic child a residential facility to live in, then spend as much time as possible with her, unless she got to a point where she wasn’t a danger to the rest of the household.

Ox Drover

Dear Jen,

I think I agree with you and I think at this point the child has demonstrated enough problematic behavior and violence that she needs a residental facility at least for a while so the mother can have some respite if nothing else before her marriage collapses too which will leave her (the mother) with less resources with which to cope.

I’ve had two children who had competing needs and I know how frustrating that can be. In this case, she has to “abandon” one child in order to parent the other adequately. Which one?

I think the child has successfully demonstrated that she is not cooperative with the mother at all, and the mother does not have control of the child (this is not blaming the mother either, let me say) but what is happening now, IS NOT WORKING, for whatever reason, and I think a professional intervention and some separation of the mother and 10 yr old for a period of time would be beneficial for BOTH the mother and the child, as well as for the mother’s marriage and the time to nurture her other child.

I feel great empathy for the mother and I think she is at her wit’s end feeling trapped between the “devil andthe deep blue se” or between “a rock and a hard place”—I hear her frustration and I pray for her and her entire family.

I have been thinking about this little girl a lot today. Thinking about what she has endured in her short life. She has no father as far as I can tell, a mother who cites her behavior as tearing her marriage apart and a mother who believes she is the reason all is in ruin.

Not sure what happened to first husband, father of girl, and now her second dad as far as I can tell gives up, moves on and takes her sibling.

And mom does not like her.

Yes, she is acting anti social…but she can’t articulate. Regardless of why this woman divorced, this child’s life was disrupted radically.

This girl seems like a child who could be helped, a child who has reasons not just genes for acting out.


Holywatersalt, The original post from which the above is excerpted was on the thread of “Can Victims Become like Psychopaths” and was about halfway down thru the thread. I believe the Father was a P and had a baby with another woman, so the 10 yr. old’s Mother divorced him when her own baby with him was about 6 weeks old. Plus I think a couple of other posts on the same thread gives even more detail about the child’s behavior such as the school not allowing her on the bus with other children now etc., but I can’t recall if the biological Father has contact.


Yeah that kid need to be somewhere else.. maybe for her own sake as well as mom’s. Some kids just act like monsters when they can’t express what they need. I know there are sometimes we have felt like there is no hope for my 9 year old. I finally had to let him go live with his dad two years ago, because I literally couldn’t stand it anymore. 90% of what he does is merely annoying, not evil, but still it’s impossible to relax or have a life with him around.

But I keep plugging, I give him lots of love, listen to all his stories, and stand up to him. It’s important never to show fear to a child like this. If they think they are gaining power it’s all over. That poor mom that feels like the hunted.. I feel so bad for her. But if I were her I would do what I sometimes do now, I would lie down to sleep in her daughter’s room blocking the door, and express sorrow that I can’t just enjoy cuddling with her because of her bad choices. Then I’d outline the good choices and encourage them.

I know it’s sooooo hard when they do stuff that’s just absolutely insupportable… but if you show shock or dismay it just makes their little antisocial day. We’ve had to give away pets and plants and stow prized possessions. And ever so slowly, he’s making progress. He shows much more love than hate now, apologizes for bad behavior usually… and only gets kicked out of school about once a month now.. oy.. and the think I like best, he laughs a lot now.

But ya know, chopping up that old plant, you just gotta..bite your lip and say.. hey.. are you angry about something.. and.. I hope you know I love you more than that plant.. or that money. but it’s my job as your mom to help you grow up to be a good person.. so.. now you gotta help me clean up this mess.


It is like the old adage of raising a tame elephant.. they tie them up with a rope when they are young, and they get used to the limits. Because once they are grown up , it’s too late to teach them the limits.. but they also have to feel loved.. or they will turn on you sooner or later.

And loving parents are the best equipped to give a child a chance. No one else can do the job a dedicated , loving parent can. Obviously a child who is threat to others must be removed. The situation above seems to work as the baby is safe from the anti social child.

Aa Kat said it difficult and trying, takes determination, but our children deserve this. After that- you can say at least you tried. Kat also made a great point about providing “negative attention/ reaction” yeah- antis love that. Better to be indifferent and insist on proper behavior for attention.

Shock the child, take her to the zoo. Provide her unconditional, normal attention and distance, calm correction when she acts out.

This is such a horrible situation it’s hard to comprehend. And it’s impossible to give specific advice because how could an outsider know enough.

But it made me think of the 2-3 really extreme s/p’s I have known (personally I don’t think there’s any doubt that s/p-ness is a continuum disorder) — individuals who might as well have been aliens masquerading as humans or who might be thought of as extremely fast calculating machines who could duplicate any human reaction but feel nothing or who might even be considered the organic arrangement of inorganic molecules (I’m not sure that makes sense, but I can’t find the right words). So my question is, was there a point in their lives when they were at the proverbial “fork in the road” leading to alternate futures? Obviously I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

Personally, I would never second guess a parent who cried, prayed, searched their soul but finally had to say goodbye to a s/p child saying, in effect, you are from me, but not of me, your body possesses my genes but your soul and your motivation are something other, how can this be, this is more than I can comprehend, but you are a changeling and I can’t help you.


TDP – Your goal of getting her placed in a residential setting that specializes in helping children like you described is, in my opinion, a viable option and the right thing to do if you have exhausted the less restrictive measures and feel it is best for your child and you. As a person who has worked with children like you describe I do understand how frustrating it can feel and how lost it can feel when even the professionals seem to be at wits end as to what to do.

There is hope. I have seen some really big turn arounds on children from being in residential treatment, turn arounds that I did not expect on some of them.

Honestly- you sound like you want to wash your hands of her. You don’t need LF, the state or her to do so . So why haven’t you?

You write about her being cured by parenting plans in two weeks as if that’s
what anyone on here (ME) has proposed. No- the opposite…long, hard work you may fail at…at one point I wrote “at least you can say you tried.”

You love her. Get a break-find a day program for her or some way to get time, or don’t.

Release her to the system- and know you stopped before you exhausted all options. With all the assets you have – it sounds as if you have more means than most people with troubled children to help them.

Life is not easy- and is not fair-and often our only reward is doing the right thing regardless of outcome.

newworld view

tdp……..fellow bloggers hear your cry for help….we are here to offer emotional support and a sonding board for you…..your pain and exhaustion has understandably put you in a place that you are finding it difficult to see your way to the other side of this tunnel…you must take care of yourself in order to take care of another this is not your fault…….we certainly have no right to walk in your shoes or judge any decision you have made or will make….i am sooooo sorry for your pain……i am sorry i know of no places for children, not my specialty…i see you are trying any suggestions that others may have… silly as this sounds, dr phil has several child experts with facilities that offer suggestions and have temporary in pt facilities that may be able to guide and advise you further…you may give that a shot…………. and contact their offices or ask for references….you certainly dont need to talk to him, but many of his shows mention these facilities and these seem to be child experts in all type of behavior issues and they may have some suggestions that you can live with free of guilt knowing you are trying your best….. and i hear you this is not a behavior issue, but perhaps some of their behavior modification treatments will have a benefit for you daughter…..these folks dont give up …………….good luck and you will be in my prayers……terri


TDProcessing, I cannot imagine the hell you are going through and the difficult decisions you will have to make. My heart goes out to you, and I support whatever you do. I have heard stories of miracles happening with autistic kids (see the book Son Rise), but I am unaware of any work being done with psychopathic ones. Just throwing stuff up in the air but there is a place called the Options Institute that works with kids with impossible conditions (like autism). Maybe they may have some information for you. I believe they are in Massachusetts. I do think you need to take care of yourself and remaining family before you are totally defeated.

Ox Drover


I DO UNDERSTAND YOUR SITUATION, I’VE BEEN THERE, When my son did his first thingie that was “P-like” I had no idea what I was dealing with and when he ran away from home (which endangered his life) I was AT MY WIT’s end. I felt fear like I have never felt before, fear for my child.

When he looked me in the eye with the P-look which at the time I did not know what was and said “You can’t watch me 24/7 I’ll run away again” I did the only thing I knewe how to do and still have a life. I sent him to live with my stepfather during the week, who was retired, and could weatch him, I put him in a private school, and he was driven to and from school by one of the teachers who lived near my step father and mother’s home, and I THREATENED to do the ONE thing I knew he would HATE. He had a horse that he was very attached to.

I had never been one to “threaten” any consequence and not carry through with it, so I toldl him if he ran away, I would SLASH THE THROAT OF HIS HORSE. It was a BLUFF and I would not have done that, but HE BELIEVED ME and he didn’t make another run away attempt. To this day he hates me for that bluff, because even though now he knows it was a bluff, it did TAKE CONTROL of his actions and made him behave when he didn’t want to. I struggled long and hard in my heart before I threatened him with this because Iknew how much he cared about that horse. But it was THE ONLY THING IN THE WORLD THAT HE CARED ABOUT and I knew he would believe me because I had NEVER said “the conseqences of X are Y” and NOT carried through.

I think in a way, the reason my son hates me SO MUCH is because I have always been a person to carry through with what I say I will do. At least a FEW times in his life I have “won” and he has never ever forgiven me for the times I “won.” To him it is all a CONTEST OF WILLS. It isn’t ab out getting along or getting what you want even or compromise or caring it is CONTROL and WINNING at any cost.

I empathize totally with the situation you are in NOW–this minute—the situation is OUT OF CONTROL. You have done your best and it has not worked, the child is still IN CONTROL, and other than chaining her to a wall in a bare room, you have done all you can do AT THIS POINT. There is no “shoulda, woulda, coulda” in it, you DID YOUR BEST, and your best didn’t work. NOW, today, she is destroying you, your family, depriving your son of a mother, and your husband of a wife and you of a child and a husband.

SHE NEEDS A PLACEMENT, NOW, TODAY….and maybe in the future, she can return home, but right now, she is DESTROYING you. Yes, she is your child, and you love her, but there comes a point that if SHE DESTROYS YOU, where is she THEN.

IN ORDER TO HELP YOUR CHILD, YOU MUST TAKE CARE OF YOU AND YOUR SUPPORT AND YOUR OTHER CHILD, and then maybe you will have the resources to help her IF SHE CAN BE HELPED. I am not telling you to desert her, but it is obvious to me that the situation right now is that SHE IS OUT OF CONTROL. She is destroying your entire life and your husband’s and your son’s—so something has to give for the GREATER GOOD OF THE MOST PEOPLE.

It is like you are swimming in a raging river, and you are trying to save her and she keeps pushing your head under. If you don’t save yourself, you will not be able to help her. That is the FACT of life.

Yoou have my empathy, my symapthy and my concern and my prayers. Hang on, and please don’t leave LF even if not everyone agrees with your take on the situation, there are those of us here that DO KNOW and I believe that everyone here cares.

We don’t if she is destroying her. We know this mother is tired and frustrated.
I do not believe we need “to soothe ourselves ” first..that’s just absurd. Mothers struggle along in infancy knowing maybe in awhile you’ll get rest, a new career, your figure back.

She is a child. Yes, they need assistance- but to blame everything on a child is wrong. Maybe she chose a bad husband, maybe they gave up—I don’t know. But the reality is – this child has limited time for “help” and needs a parent at least. Not someone to cop out and run.

But it’s your choice- I have nothing else to add. I am just afraid ” a center” is just a box and way to forget she exists until she is evene worse and more easily dismissed.

Ox Drover

Dear HWS, I am not suggesting that she put the child in an dungeon forever with a life sentence, I am suggesting that she place the child in a professional inpatient place for several reasons. One, the biggest one at this point, is to give the mother some respite, some rest mentally and physically. A TIME OUT for both mother and child.

In the middle of any “intense situation” between ANY two people a “time out,” a space apart for some time, to give tempers time to cool down, to let the light of reality shine in. That is not a putting the child in a box, but in a theraputic situation where she can be safe while the situation on both parts cools down.

I am NOT blaming ANYONE. Either the child or the mother, I am addressing the SITUATION as it is, not who was “wrong” or even WHAT IS WRONG, but just a “time out” so that things can settle down, so the mother can get a break to start to think.

In the middle of a CRISIS situation NO ONE can be totally rational or make their best decisions. I sure can’t, but once the crisis has calmed down, and you can breathe for a while and assess things, better decisions can be made.

Caregivers need respite too. That’s why sometimes people leave their children with a sitter and go for a vacation without the kids. Leaving this child with a conventional “sitter” isn’t an option.

The SITUATION WITH THE CHILD is what is destroying the family. The situation can be changed, but it needs a “time out” to let things calm down.

Thank you Dr. Leedom for replying. I appreciate the fact a professional does care enough to reply. It’s good to get many perspectives and I appreciate a professional who dialogues with lay people rather merely pontificating. I also appreciate your clear statement regarding the “treatability” of psychopaths and the reality adults must steer clear of them and remove them from ones life.

And it is interesting that some professionals see psychopathy as a different creature than say Schizophrenia. I know the difference between personality disorder and mental illness, know psychopathy used to be referred to as “moral insanity,” and remain a question.

In adults, I see it as strictly a personality disorder, a choice, willful sinfulness. In children, especially under age of reason (age 8 or so), I think they may act out anti socially,but aren’t psychopaths.

I’m absolutely one that believes people are born s/p or not. Some s/p’s are just amoral but it seems most are bullies who delight in dominance and manipulation (even apparently at a young age) and some are criminals. (I don’t think psychopathic serial killers are serial killers because they are psychopaths, but rather that they are skillful at it because of their s/p-ness.) Breaking norms or laws is a choice and thus they do deserve legal penalties for criminal acts, but their essence is not a choice, IMO. I believe we have to get away from the notion that individuals are born as a blank slate.

Let me add that, IMO, the huge societal problems with s/p’s are with “passing for normal” (but still utterly amoral, empathy-less, and manipulative) s/p’s. But that’s a different discussion.

Ox Drover


I agree with you that genetics is the BASIS of every P, but I also know that SOMETIMES the LEVEL OF THEIR BEHAVIOR can be altered with environment and teaching. Sometimes NOT. I can’t say at “what age” it is “set in stone” but there appears (to me, my opinon only) some age at which they are carved in stone.

I know that with other mammals, there is a “bonding period” in age that if it is missed, there IS NO HOPE of them being able to appropriately bond.

With wolves, the “bonding” period is age 12 to 16 weeks. At that point they “bond” with their pack, whether it is a pack of real wolves or a family of humans.

With the Great White Pyrenees guardian dogs, the bonding period is 12 to 16 weeks of age, and if they are not bonded by close association with whatever it is that they are to guard, they can never be bonded to be guardians. However, with the dogs, if they are “bonded” to a herd of sheep, that bonding can with appropriate association be “transferred” to goats, or chickens or whatever, but if the INITIAL BONDING is not done with some form of living creature they will never bond with anything. It is an INBORN MECHANISIM that cannot be changed by environment if the RIGHT MOMENT in their maturation is missed.

Wolves will actually kill a pup that does not appropriately “bond” to the pack, so they actually “select out” the ones born without the appropriate instinctive bonding to reinforce this instinct genetically.

Unfortunately, humans are not able to “select out” by assisanation the “inapproprriately bonded” and about the best we can do is to incarcerate them SOMETIMES. LOL

Humans and other mammals have a “bonding hormone” oxytocin which is released by birth and sexual activity and nursing. A mother sheep and a mother goat also “bond” to the particular smells and the cry of their infants. I know that when I was nursing my babies if I heard ANY baby cry, I wold start to leak milk (in cattle this is called “letting down” the milk) Cows whose calves are removed at birth or after a day or two and then milked by hand or machine can be “fooled” and trained to let their milk down by other stimuli—that’s why we have “milk cows” and “beef cows” and it has taken generatons of this to where a cow that is bred for milk, such as the HOlsteins are not closely bonded to their calves as other breeds are and don’t seem to grieve if the calf is taken away after a day or two when the “real milk” comes in, instead of the syrupy colustrum which the calf needs for his/her immune system. My beef cattle will cry and scream and walk the fence for days if their calf is “missing” for whatever reason. A Holstein breed cow usually doesn’t even care, she just gets in the milk line like she doesn’t even realize she had a calf.

There are other things that can influence “bonding” between a mother and her infant, whatever the species. I have no doubt that it is also true with humans. Stress, illness, etc can all influence “bonding”—I have myself worked with young teenaged mothers who were not bonded to their infants and have actually successfully done “remedial bonding” with some of these young mothers, and seen with my own eyes the changes in the posture of the way they held and looked at these infants. There have also been many studies done on how women bond with their infants, and how some infants just seem to RESIST bonding even from birth. WHY? I’m not sure, but I am hopeful that eventually medical science will find out and there may be a potential “fix” for it.

In the meantime, we do the best we can with what we know. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. At least I am glad that medical science is starting to realize that there IS SOME GENETIC CONNECTION to the personality disorders. For so long babies were assumed to be totally blank slates as far as their personality was concerned. Why “they” thought that what held true in EVERY MAMMAL SPECIES was DIFFERENT in humans I don’t know, but apparently “they” did. But reality, the reality of genetics has taken some giant leaps forward in the last few years and I am hopeful that in another few years it will take some more giant leaps—maybe in treatment as well as causal things. For that I earnestly pray!


I remember reading in Dr. Robert Hare’s “Without Conscience” that he believes those genetically inclined to sociopathy are indeed influenced by parenting. But not the way many of you might think.

A person genetically inclined to sociopathy from birth might become a sadistic and prolific serial killer, with particularly bad parenting. A person genetically inclined to sociopathy might become a con artist or a serial philanderer, with particularly GOOD parenting. You’re not going to get anything near normal, even if you are the best, most loving, most patient, most caring individual who ever raised a child.

I’d love to put on my rose-colored glasses and my Pollyanna suit and go back to believing that with enough love and attention, even the worst-behaved child can be transformed into a person with a conscience. But I have learned the hard way that IT JUST AIN’T SO.

In console myself with this when I wonder why God put this child into my care, and why I and the rest of my family have suffered so much over the years. And I tell myself, that with a bad parent, things would be much, much worse. My child has not killed anyone yet, but it is always a possibility. To date, this child is “merely” a thief, con artist, forger, and armed robber. That’s what I know about, of course. There are most likely many things I don’t know.

This child is now an adult. Had I known what I was dealing with when this child was still yet a minor, I don’t know how I would have handled it. I didn’t fully grasp what I was dealing with until young adulthood.

TDP, do not blame yourself or allow others to try to blame you for “not loving enough.” I know exactly what you are going through, I truly do, and I understand that with these unfortunate souls, one can NEVER love them enough, because they cannot recognize or process love. They see only weakness or strength.

And I could not agree more with the poster who counsels you to never, never show fear. Do you best to survive. There comes a point when you realize that you must protect yourself and your other children FIRST.


tood: good to see you again. long time.
my ex-s/p/n’s mom was my dear friend and a very loving parent. all of her children loved her very much. she always told me that my ex was ‘wild’ since he was an infant. he used to sneak outside in the middle of the night when he was five, smoked cigs when he was 8, had sex when he was 11, etc. when i first met him, at 13, he was a truant, a street fighter, and sexually promiscuous. but he also had a loving, affectionate, adorable side that was magnetic as hell. so, i think a lot of the time he got away with everything. there was no way to discipline him. he just did whatever he wanted to. no one could stop him. it really is a miracle he’s never been arrested, but he could talk his way out of anything.
he is afraid of nothing, never has been. just plows on seeking and taking whatever it is he needs or wants.
he has left behind a wake of broken hearts (never thought it would be mine, but … surprise!) and half-cared for kids.
and he never looks back …

OK- I have to make a comment. My husband who is the most gentle, kind, empathetic man I know- killed animals as a child. Recalls doing it- went on to commit minor felonies as a young adult. Was a drug addict and alcoholic- that is NOT him. He has been on the straight, narrow and sober for over 16 years.
Graduated from an Ivy league school- his step-father was a psychopath- killed a family member. His saving grace I suspect were his grandparents who had him when he was young, so young he does not remember them.

He was acting out, confused and alone- once away from them he healed.
So it’s not just genetics, sometimes it’s the family. Sometimes these behaviors are not sociopathic at all- but a young child utterly lost.

Ox Drover

Dear Tood,

You and I both raised a Psychopathic son, and mine HAS killed and would kill again, I have no doubt if he were out of prison.

Mine didn’t really start to act out until adolescence either, but I have professionally worked with ones (in inpatient settings) that were MONSTERS by age 10 that the parents were not safe going to sleep at night with the child in the same house. They have tired to burn the house down on the heads of their parents and other serious behavior. I can hardly imagine how those parents must feel with a child that YOUNG being so dangerous.

I worked with one “child” age 12 who had raped several other children as young as 6 or 7 (both male and female) and had NO remorse for it. This 12 year old was over 200 pounds and over 6 ft tall and knew his own strength. He and 2 or three other kids managed to escape the locked psych ward they were on and he even attacked a cop until the cop put a pistol to his head.

A friend of mine had a P daughter that at age 11 was sexually active and out of control and she looked him in the eye and said “you let me go live with my P mother and do what I want or I will tell social services you molested me and you will go to jail.” He let her go, it was his only option, she was RIGHT and how could he have proven he didn’t?

He had gotten custody of her when she was 5, put her in counseling and did everything he could to help the child that could have been done. I used to baby sit for her a lot and for several years that I knew her (between age 5 and age 9) she was a “sweet” and obedient child, loving and bright. But she hit an early puberty and all hell broke loose.

I could give another 20 examples, but you get the idea. AFter my son killed his victim, I “fell apart” and locked myself in mhy house for 3 months and wouldn’t see anyone except my family. I cried 24/7, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, I was in such grief I can’t even begin to say how destraught I was. I know the pain caused by your children that you loved, cared for and nurtured to turn out to be something akin to Ted Bundy or Charlie Manson or “Bruno” or “Butch.”

Yes, LIG, they can pretend for a while to be “kind and caring” and “loving” but they are like POISON SNakes that ONLY BITE ONCE IN A WHILE. You never know when they will strike, or what will provoke them, and no matter how much you love them or pet them or stroke them, they will never grow fur and love you back like a puppy.


holywatersalt My x was abandoned by his parents at age two. His very religous grandparent’s raised him, from what he told me ( if it was even true) she was very ashamed of him for being gay and disowned him when he told her at age 18. So the borderline personality disorder explains his fear of abandoment and the rage. He was very street smart but lived in the shadows. He was obviously a very troubled man. Like a hurt puppy with sad eyes. But I am sure when I turned my back to him the look of pity turned to a look of ( I got you fooled) and probably a sick smirk that went with those cold empty eye’s. He knew he was fooling me and loved every minute of it. But then I became like him and the focus wasnt just about him and he had to leave because he knew couldnt fool me asnymore – the gig was up. It’s going on 7 month’s nc for me and just the past few days I have noticed there have been moment’s he was not in my thoughts – just a moment here and there – TIME – such a precious thing to waste on them – but TIME and distance and no contact is our only salvation.

Ox Drover

Henry, Dear,

For every person who had a bad chldhood and turned out “bad” you can name one who had a horrible childhood and OVERCAME IT.

WE ALL HAVE CHOICES. You didn’t have an ideal childhood either, and neither did I, but we are NOT psychopaths. Weve made some poor choices, but we haven’t victimized others without a single atom of remorse.

I have just finished reading a book on Charlie Manson, written by a prison administrator who spent nearly 20 years around him while he was (is) in prison. The administrator was fascinated by Charlie and Charlie’s antics. Charlie blames his “terrible up brinings” (and it was terrible) for being what he is, one moment he claimes to be god, and the next he claims that he had NO influence on the “family” and that they acted totally independelty in the murders.

NOTHING was ever “Charlies’ fault” I have a wonderful friend whose mother was the human equivalent of a sow that would eat her pigs as they were born. Two of her children became wonderful caring people and two just like her (I won’t count the mentally retarded daughter) so a bad, terrible, horrible even, childhood CAN be over come, and a “good” nice family can produce a monster.

The problem is that you are, as an ADULT, 100% responsible for your own choices.

I don’t like a lot of the choices I made, but I can’t “blame” them on my mother or my P-bio father, they may have influenced me by my “raisin'” but I still had choices, and TODAY I choose to be healthy and to be happy, and to not let what has happened in the past rule the rest of my life.

(M) can’t blame his predatory lifestyle on his parents, he has a choice to NOT behave that way. You couldn’t save him from hmself. I couldn’t save my P-son from himself.

But what we can do, and what we have chosen to do is to SAVE OURSELVES, to heal ourselves.

You and Bird and I have all three made big progress in our road to healing and I am proud of all three of us, and others here that have overcome the trauma, the pain, and blossomed.

Today has been wonderful, and I trust that tomorrow will be as well, because I will MAKE IT WONDERFUL. I thank God for LF, and for you all, my companions on this journey to JOY. God bless and ((((hugs)))) my friends.

Ox Drover

Dear TDPP,

Hun,, you are not going to offend any of us, if you have found a group of people who will accept you, THIS IS THE PLACE.

We may not always “agree” on everything, but we all have and express our opinions here without fear of “flamming” or hate mail.

You will find more care and concern and some really really smart folks here and many with lots of “letters” after their names who DO GET IT, because they have the P-experience as well.

All our P-experiences are horrible and it doesn’t matter if it is your husband, your chld, your boss, your neighbor, or your lover, they shread our lives, our hearts and our souls if we allow it.

Having a YOUNG child as a P, when there IS hope, but you are at your wit’s and strength’s end must be the bottom level of HELL ON EARTH. Having my P-son as a teenager was horrible and I can’t even imagine how you must be hurting, afraid, and sad 24/7.

We can’t do anything for you, but we can sure be here to hold your hand, listen to you, validate your horrible situation and maybe, just maybe come up with some kind of idea that might help. AND LISTEN WHEN NO ONE ELSE WILL. This is a safe place, my dear, with caring people.

Your daughter IS IMPORTANT, but you know what, YOU ARE ALSO IMPORTANT, AND YOUR MARRIAGE IS IMPORTANT AND YOUR SON IS IMPORTANT, so balancing this 4-sided “see-saw” on a pin head is a DIFFICULT TASK. That I DO absolutely know. I so admire you for being able to not be lying on the floor sucking your thumb and babbling, and spewing spittle. You are ONE TOUGH GREAT WOMAN, so hang on to YOUR sanity above all else right now. Your family needs you and if you don’t take care of YOU, you can’t help your daughter, your son or your marriage. (((((hugs)))))) PRAYERS AND MORE PRAYERS Oxy


I feel for you. I really do. It’s so disturbing that children can do such hate-filled things and then act as though nothing happened. I can’t imagine the fathers who are in jail because their P daughters told people they were being molested (and actually weren’t). Or the parents who are dealing with DHS workers because of things their P children are doing or accusing them of doing that isn’t the truth. I hope everything goes well for you at the meeting.

I am trying to come to grips with my circumstances and the long road ahead of me with my children and step-children. How they turn out is really up in the air at this point. I do know that I fear my step-son may be down the S road with his mom, but I’m not ready to say he’s without hope. I know he’s done better in the year that we’ve had temp full custody.

I do worry about my own children. Will my stepson sexually act out with them? Will they be accused of things that he did? How will my children turn out? One is “diagnosed” (by a family doctor) with ADD and has trouble concentrating at school. This tendency I noticed at an early age. I could never put my finger on what is wrong, but I knew something wasn’t clicking right. But he does have a conscience, so I’m thinking he’ll be okay. My other son I always have had a soft spot for. I don’t know why. I was told that parents often have a child that they relate to better than another. Lately he’s had a really bad attitude, and I can’t get him to get out of his funk. He’s almost 6, and he just thinks the world hates him. I don’t know if he’s manipulating me, but he is also a sweet child, and I worry what my divorce with his dad has done to him emotionally at such a tender age. I share custody of them with their dad, but he can be almost abusive when he gets stressed and angry, so I worry. My son was so happy until the divorce… I don’t know. Now I have 3 stepchildren. The oldest boy, 5, is the one I was referring to. Then a 3 year old girl, and a 1 year old girl. They all display problems due to their S mom. I also have a 5 month old son with my husband, and he is just the light of my life. He is so happy and content, even amidst all this chaos. He whines less than all his older brothers and sisters. That is DEFINITELY not to say that I love him any more. Sometimes my love comes out in worry.

I just need reassurance that my kids will be okay. That I’m doing the right thing by them. I know that my almost-6 year old’s problem is probably due to him not knowing where his place is in the family, especially since he’s so close in age to my stepson (only a month apart). He was my baby, now he’s second to oldest, and I have a new baby too. I just wish I could reassure him, but he doesn’t seem to want the help. Sometimes I wonder if I put my own happiness ahead of my children’s needs when I married my husband.

Ox Drover

Dear tdpp,

I am glad that you are upbeat and that you have your “ducks in a row”—I hope that you get some positive results. I’ve fought school systems (for my ADHD son) and ended up taking him out of public school–home schooled for a while, then private schools, but eventually got a well educated son.

I do know how difficult it is when your round child won’t fit a square “hole” in the school systems. Your situation is more acute than mine was with my young ADHD son, but hopefully you will get some relief both for yourself and your daughter.

I will keep my fingers crossed and my knees on the floor for you, light a candle and say 100 prayers. BTW, it’s OK to “complaiin” when things get really REALLY bad! One of the things I found out (finally) is that it’s okay not be be able to “handle the world on your back” without any help. I always tried to handle whatever load was put on my back, because God promised he won’t put more on us than we can bear, and HE didn’t, I DID. I kept heaping it upon my own shoulders instead of giving part of the load to HIM>

There is an old saying “that a JOY SHARED is doubled, and a burden shared is HALVED.” I am learning now to SHARE my burdens, and to share my JOYS and I am a much better and stronger person because of that. God bless (((hugs))))


I just found this site and though Im not glad to be here, and sad that you all are.. misery is better in like company.

My 11 year old step-daughter was just diagnosed as being “psychotic”.. but, after all the reading Ive done, I think shes absolutely a psychopath.

She’s been put on a drug called Abilify and its only been 3 days.
She’s a beautiful quiet little girl but she destroys things, stabbing the items, things she believes are special to people, like my baby book, my son’s baby book, my family bible etc.

She leaves the destroyed things for us to find, sometimes leaving clues for us to find first that will direct us to the object she has harmed.

She shaved bald patches into 2 of our cats, cutting into their skin and holding them so hard she caused a fluid filled hematoma on the shoulder of one of the pets.

We heard the screaming of the cat and ran out to see what was going on- she let go and pretended she arrived there first, kicking the razor under the table.

We assumed it was a simple disagreement between the kitties and left them to sort it out.

When the screaming went on again, we ignored it.

My step-daughter had grabbed the cat to finish the job.

She bit my son in his sleep “to find out how much pain it would take before he woke up” it took several days of her learning what he could sleep through before clamping down on his arm hard enough to bruise him in 2 wide circles and he smacked her.

We have chains on our doors now and Ive hidden the knives in the garage.

Her psychologist had me stay within 5 feet of her constantly, waking till sleeping, for a week as part of her bad decision therapy. She got away from me twice, once when I was opening the door of my van to take the kids to school- she dashed back into the house to destroy something that she had picked out.. the other time she asked me about something of mine and then waited till I wasnt looking, and destroyed it, putting it back for me to find.

She took in indelible marker to my fine bone china, smeared icing on the tv, pulled the fringe off the pillows of the new couch while we were sitting next to her reading, not watching her-

The therapist had me tie her to me for a week since she was being tricky- and I took her off the “leash” when I called the police about a house I thought was being burglarized ( owner was renovating)
during the few minutes I spoke to the officers at my door, the little girl went to my china cabinet and destroyed an antique pair of glasses belonging to a great grandfather then took a pair she hadnt harmed and left it on a table in another room as her “clue”.

She has no remorse, no conscience, it never crosses her mind- she tells me- about possible consequences.
She enjoys hurting people and enjoyed hurting the animals.

She is only sad about her punishments.
She lies constantly about everything. She even lies about what shes done when shes caught.

She has something I call “the Dark Look”- Its an expressionless fathomless stare. Her brother also does this.

She says she is bored when she comes up with her destructive plots and nothing stops her from carrying them out. If she is thwarted right then, she just waits until she gets the chance to accomplish her goal.

She does these things at other homes besides mine.

Her brother was just diagnosed as “emotionally disturbed”.. a catch all phrase for a lot of things. I thought he had aspergers’ when he lived here.

His behavior was so disruptive that he was removed to live with his paternal grandmother.
I believe now, that he is also a psychopath but with a lower IQ.
(109) than his sister.
He is arrogant, self-pitying, bullied because of his oddities.. he makes strange decisions like he would rather defecate and urinate in his clothes than to take the time to leave what he’s doing and go to the bathroom.
He was finally broken of it when he was 13.

Their father is talking about divorcing me rather than having his daughter move out.
Ive been advised to take her to a mental care facility for observation.
My husband thinks I have manipulated the psychiatrist into making her diagnosis.

His mother, who has the boy who is 15 now, is very enabling and I have insisted that the both of them come with me to the next session.

I love the little girl. I recognize that she has shallow feelings, is a sadist, and is dangerous.

I fear for us all.


Dear Wyn: I know health professionals are going to work with you and your step-daughter with the knowledge that they already knows works and sadly, what doesn’t work. I’m going to suggest another approach … and please, just hear me out on this … because I know I’m going to get booed all over the place on what I’m going to suggest … but I feel it in my soul that this will work… that this little girl is forced fed the Bible … reading it on her own or having someone read it to her, hearing it on tape, listening to the word of God, watching it on video the word of God … allowing her to do nothing else but to absorb the wisdom of what is in the Bible. I believe that reading and understanding the Bible and how God wants us to live will kick off enzymes in her brain to allow her to start feeling again. I don’t think it will be a quick fix and will take years of allowing the wisdom to sink into her brain … but I think this is the missing link from any of the tried and trued therapies out there today.

I believe children by the time they reach 11 have already been living in their egos for years … probably since she was around 1 years old. She instinctively knew how to play her parents to get her own way … (not realizing the affects this will have on her in the future … she’s only a child living in her ego) after that her ego took off and she was no longer a humble child (you have to be humble to listen to reprimands and learn the lessons of the reprimands … if the child’s ego took off – there is no getting through the ego … it has a life of it’s own) and that ego gets stronger and as the years went by.

Hey, it wouldn’t hurt mixing God’s way of wanting us to live thrown into the mix here.

I feel so strongly on this and I know it’s not orthodox practice … but, I can’t express it stronger than to emerge that child’s life … living and breathing the word of God … for the next few years and see what comes of it.

It couldn’t hurt to have this child read and study the Bible … the other way her ego is running her life isn’t working and isn’t functional. Plus, flooding the child with wisdom of God’s words in the Bible hasn’t been tried yet and therefore, there is no results tallied whether it works or not.

If I had a child living the way this child is living through her ego, I’d be willing to try the written word of God.

Peace and I hope you find serenity in the years to come while dealing with this.


I have been very affected by some of these posts, even though I don’t have children of my own.

When I was very young, I did terrible things to animals. I used to behead wild snakes and skin frogs while they were alive. I once tortured a pet turtle until I woke up one day and found it dead. I cannot tell you how many tears I have shed over these actions. I doubt I will ever forgive myself. It’s horrible to have to even remember.

As I got older I outgrew it and became the animal advocate in my family. My parents decided to keep dogs to breed, and at one time we had 50 of them. It was my job to care for them, and when they were sick I nursed them back to health. The sick ones always stayed in my room so I could take care of them. I grew to love animals.

I currently live with two boa constrictors and two cats, and they are all spoiled rotten and the loves of my life. I would never lift a finger to harm them or any animal. I volunteer at a cat shelter and cannot even step on an ant or a spider. I have spent my adult life helping and rescuing animals. I know I can’t bring back the turtle I killed by I can maybe save the lives of others.

I’m writing this because I do believe that harming animals as a child is NOT an accurate indicator of psychopathy. At least I hope I’m not a psychopath.

BTW, what happened to all of TDProcessing’s posts? They seem to have disappeared.


stargazer: i don’t think you’re a psychopath at all. you are very sympathetic and empathic toward all of us here.
my ex-s/p/n, who would score through the roof on any test for psychopathy loves animals. he has had dogs and cats and cared for them very much. it is the ONLY trait that is listed that he doesn’t have. i have known him since he was a pre-teen, and he was truant, sexually promiscuous and a rampant sociopath (didn’t know it then!) since he was very young. his mom concurs on this. but he has never mistreated animals … only people. comforting, right?!
however, if a dog ever bit him unprovoked, he’d probably kick the crap out of it without a second thought.


Thanks, LIG. I just hate telling that story, but I think it served a useful purpose.

I was thinking about the other guy I dated for 3 years. I never thought of him as a sociopath, though he was very selfish. I remember him telling me he used to live on a farm with his son and the family dog. I think it was a black lab. When they moved, they couldn’t take the dog with them. And they couldn’t find anyone to adopt him. So he (my ex) took the dog out in the back yard and shot him. To him it was the most natural thing to do, living on a farm. I cannot even imagine how you could do that. I’m starting to see the S tendencies in that guy as well. Wow, I must be a magnet for them.


star: i’m a magnet for them too. i realize now that most of the men i have been in relationships were sociopaths or narcissists.
how gross.
this last guy really did a number on me — 20 years of being used when i thought we were moving toward being married and together forever. what a sham! well, good news is that now i know what and who they are.
but i’m staying single for a good long time. i need to become whole myself.
then, i believe, i will be drawn to my right and perfect partner. god knows i deserve it!
we all do.

Ox Drover

I may be wrong in this and if I am I stand to be corrected, but it is my understanding that most psychopaths (as adults) did NOT torture or hurt animals as children.

My P-son had strong bonds to animals, but none to humans. He both comforted them and was comforted by animals.


Yeah, but Oxy … it’s their EGOs that take off and is what they believe in … not listening to rules or regulations … from anyone. Not their parents, caretakers, siblings, teachers, clergy, employers, friends, co-workers, the list goes on and on. Just because it’s not what they want to do. All out of EGO … believing their own ego from an early age … earlier than any of us know or care to think about. The only time they listen … is to prevent them from getting into trouble all the time at home or school when they are younger (and even then … it doesn’t work most of the time) … and they only to listen to what they need know not to get tripped up and reprimanded next time … that’s when the lip service starts … get away with it … and then they refine their lip service.

Everything I ever read about their conditions and solutions that were hoping would … didn’t compare to Tolle’s book “A New Earth” and how to quiet the EGO. I’m telling you this guy is really on to something.

Our egos are in us too, just not out of control like theirs. We hear ourselves say something to ourself … and we stop, analyze it … then we accept or reject a notion that comes through our minds. Was it rational? Was it insecure? Was it good or bad for us to accept our ego telling us something? That’s the difference between them and us. We stop and analyze our thinking … weigh it out with different situations and including the outcome for others. They don’t! They care less about anyone else and go full steam ahead to get what they want, when they want it. “Oh, I want that – go for it … and who cares about what anyone else thinks”. AKA what is being a BRAT? Their selfishness opposes all teachings in religion … aka do what is good for you as long as it’s good for everyone involved. If not, don’t do it.



I’d just like to thank all those parents with psycho/sociopath children that are courageous enough to admit the truth to themselves and who are seeking help.

Having a staff of trained professionals who have time off to recharge their batteries, who are not feeling guilty, who are able to have some emotional detachment, and the controlled environment of a residential treatment facility would seem to be a good choice for offering the chance of a life to the child with psychopathic traits.

It makes sense that psychopathy and sociopathy are on a continuum, but what’s scary about these two conditions is that part of the dysfunction is that we are vulnerable because we can’t tell who’s in the normal range and who’s in the BTK range. He had a mother and father too.

So THANK YOU, parents. For my part, I would rather my tax dollars go to fund 100% child’s residential treatment than their later incarceration. And if normal life is never a chance, I’d rather we as a society learn that from long term behavioral observation than from the wake of devastation (or trail of bodies) that psychopaths leave.


Here is what I know about children born extremely inclined to sociopathy (please everyone, believe me when I tell you that all this is knowledge gained in retrospect; I misinterpreted almost every aspect of this child’s character while raising him).

It is extremely difficult to get them, as infants, to return the maternal gaze. What came naturally to all my other children did not come naturally to this one. As I held this child and stared, marvelling at the perfection of this tiny thing, he would not/could not hold my gaze for any length of time. I misinterpreted this, at the time, as a shy and retiring nature, and so I treated this child with kid gloves. God help me, I thought him DELICATE and so I took extra pains to treat him gently.

I guess it goes without saying that breastfeeding was a struggle. I tried for two months, then gave up and went to bottles.

This child cried differently than all my other children. First, there was only one “type” of cry–a high-pitched screaming sort of cry, like a siren. I think all mothers (and I was no exception) learn to interpret the cries of their infants as to when they are hungry, or tired, or wet, or sleepy. This child had only cry and again, God help me, I did not even fully realize this until I was playing catch-up in his baby book when he was already a toddler, and I was writing about his crying as an infant. It hit me then that there was only the one type of crying. But I didn’t at the time realize what this was signaling–I knew only that it was a fact.

There were other indicators, but I can’t bear to think back on them now.

And I suppose I still haven’t fully given up hope, because I recently allowed this child into my home. (It was an expensive lesson, monetarily, but thankfully not physcially, and this child is now elsewhere. He won’t be crossing my doorstep again, at least not at my invitation.)

I still hope to this very day that he can at least learn to adopt A BETTER MASK and wear it for a lifetime. I hope, but from a distance.

Ox Drover

Dear Tood,

You ane Ii both having raised “one” that there is no doubt about the “diagnosis” can sort of see “the clouds from both sides now. In retrospect I can look back and see almost “NO” signs until he hit puberty (one episode of theft at age 11 where he denied it even in light of the evidence and his coconspiritor’s confession) you mentioning the breast feeding being a challenge, reminded me though, that he did have a problem with breast feeding.

His spine curved BACKWARDS away from me, and in order to get his face to the breast I had to lay his body on the arm of the rocker away from me. He was also a “cranky” baby—but so are a lot of babies who are NOT psychopathic.

He was a self absorbed teenager, somewhat rebellious, but name me ONE who wasn’t, his rebellion was a “bit more serious” and tended to be toward the criminal, but my goodness I have known some kids that before puberty were the most wonderful kids in the world and at puberty you wanted to smother them for the good of humanity, but in a couple of years they were back to being wonderful people again.

I even asked my other sons what “signs” that they saw that might have been kept from me but that they would have been privy to—nada until he reached about age 17 and started the real, cops-pick-them-up-and-arrest-them crimes.

Once he started the “big time crime” and rebellion in less than three years the “turned 21 in prison doing life…” to quote the old song.

Over all the first 13 or so years were not bad at all, but then the next four were what I thought was a very rebellious teenaged period but I never once thought it was psychpathic, I just thought he was like a lot of other kids who “rebell” and “get attitudes” and “get into some trouble” but “outgrow” it. My efforts were focused on keeping him out of enough trouble to “ruin his life” before he “came to his senses.” At those two goals I was a “miserable failure” because he was DETERMINED to do what he wanted to and not give a damn what the consequences were.

Just like most loving parents try to teach a kid to walk, but protect him from running into the street or off a cliff before he “gets sense enough to stay out of the street” we try to teach our teenagers independence by keeping them under a close enough watch that they don’t kill themselves driving too fast or doing something “really stupid” that they thought was a “good idea at the time” or getting hooked on drugs or something else “life ruining.”

Mine has a “good mask” but he wears it only between serious crimes like robbery or murder, so I think mine needs to be in prison for the rest of his life and I hope that I can convince the Texas department of Corrections to oblige me and society by doing just that. Because I know (without a crystal ball) that if he ever gets out on parole either me or one of my other sons will either have to kill him ourselves, or he will kill one or all of us.

How did your court case come out Tood? Or has it gone to court yet? God bless you ((((hugs))))

I agree with you Gentlepath.



As you no doubt know, these legal proceedings sometimes last for years. It will be quite awhile before it is over and the ex is in the penitentiary, but we proceed one tiny step at a time.

Hearings on this, hearings on that. But our side is winning so far. Thanks for asking.

The financial hit I took from allowing the S/P child into my home is a small price to pay if the perp S/P gets put away and other families are saved from his evil presence.

Sometimes it still seems too unbelieveable to be true, especially when I write it down like this. I have to differentiate between parent S/P, child S/P and ex-spouse S/P…when an encounter with only one of them is more than anyone should ever have to deal with.

Ox Drover

Dear Tood,

Yea, I think we both lived in a nest of vipers there for a while, but being P-free now is “heaven on earth”—compared to where we came from. (((hugs)))))


my child does not display dangerous tendincys but does not display love or affction. he treats me like i dont matter and is mean hateful and says hurtful things continuousley TO ME . IVE TRIED EVERYTHING TO GET HIM TO LOVE ME , AND THERE ARE BRIEF MOMENTS BUT USALLY WHEN HE WANTS SOMETHING .. HES 9 AND I THINK IF I DIED TODAY IT WOULD NOT FAZE HIM.

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