Baby Psychos

June 12, 2012

Brit Trogen

For thoughts on understanding and identifying psychopaths, take a gander at "Seeking the Pscyho" by Torah Kachur. For some motivation to never, ever procreate... keep reading.



Movies offer us plenty of examples of how to deal with psychos. What do you do if you're married to one? Went to high school with them? What about if you're randomly targeted by one over a series of sequels... *ahem* years? But there's one question that is only beginning to emerge, perhaps the creepiest question of them all:


What do you do if you gave birth to one?


Of course, many parents would probably think they have. The behaviors and characteristics of children are in many ways identical to those of psychos: they're narcissisic, impulsive, and subject to wild mood swings. In fact, in early childhood it's almost impossible to distinguish normal "child" behavior from what could eventually lead to abnormal "killing-your-neighbors-and-making-their-feet-into-stew" behavior. So if you happen to know a kid who throws violent rages when you withhold ice cream or steal their toys, don't freak out... yet.


But researchers in Florida are making huge leaps into the field of Things We Really Didn't Need to Know, with the revelation that child sociopaths (psychopaths and sociopaths are synonymous, for these purposes) can start to be identified as early as five. Five!!! As in, some parents around the world might be raising psychopathic demons over the course of decades. We'll come back to this.


Dan Waschbusch is one of the leading researchers in this area, as well as the one who came up with a label to describe them that's slightly less horrifying than psycho: "callous-unemotional" children. These C.U. children share many of the same characteristics: they lack remorse and empathy; they're cold, predatory and exhibit hostile or violent behavior; they're highly manipulative and compulsive liars.... they're essentially every bit the psycho, but packaged in a sweet, innocent-looking package. 


This brings us back to the unfortunate parents of these kids, who are caught in an almost unimaginable situation. What on earth are you supposed to do with a child psycho? The causes of psychopathy aren't known for sure (though they seem to have innate differences in brain structure), but most importantly for cases of C.U. children is the question: can they be treated? Waschbusch has been attempting to do this, using various methods, including a "summer camp" for C.U. kids (take a second to think about that.) But in the meantime, the answer is a definitive "no." If you are the parent of a psycho-to-be, there is pretty much nothing you can do.  


So... still feel like procreating?



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