Is My Child a Psychopath

Topics: Psychopathy, Conduct disorder, Antisocial personality disorder Pages: 14 (4799 words) Published: December 3, 2012
Is My Child A Psychopath?
Cindy Loza
Whittier College

There is not enough empirical research on child psychopathy and its development or indicators. There is also a lack of evidence that signifies a positive correlation between conduct disorder and other defiant problems in children to psychopathy in adults. The current review examines psychopathic characteristics that can be identified in children, disorders that are related to psychopathy, and neurobiological factors have also been considered to have a relationship with this disorder. Findings suggest that psychopathy in children can be identified in children as young as 3. The empirical research provided in the review reveal a considerable amount of information suggesting that children with behavioral problems such as ADHD, CU traits, delinquent behaviors, and CD may have similar traits with antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy. These behavioral disorders found in children as early as 3-4 years of age may indicate that there are behavioral precursors that may lead to adult psychopathy. For future research, researchers should further observe a brain of a psychopath and its involvement in psychopathic behaviors using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see whether there were unusual neurological displays or if there were different methods of brain processing when the participants were given different types of words, (i.e. rape and murder) or shown different pictures an videos (i.e. scenes from a homicide).

Is My Child A Psychopath?
During toddlerhood, a young child will normally throw various fits and tantrums. During these episodes of fit, do children usually slam the toilet seat down repeatedly until it breaks? If so, how does one explain the motive to act out in that manner? A common answer would probably be that they are acting “like a brat”, which is exactly what nine year old Michael’s parents thought (Kahn, 2012). Michael’s parents described abnormal fits out of Michael as toddler; he’d scream and shriek terribly at any command given to him. Michael’s inconsolable tantrums lasted past his toddler years. At eight years old, Michael would cut his trousers with a pair of scissors and painstakingly pull his hair out (Kahn, 2012). Over the course of six years, Michael was taken to eight different therapists, all which diagnosed him with something different every time. He was diagnosed as having “firstborn syndrome”, Attention deficit disorder (A.D.D.), Depression, Obsessive–compulsive disorder (O.C.D.) and sensory-integration disorder. It was not until later, with the help of Dan Waschbusch, that Michael’s parents found out that their son might be a psychopath (Kahn 2012). The notion that a child could have psychopathic tendencies is controversial amongst psychologists, who may categorize such behavior as simply “bratty.” Psychologists argue that just like other personality disorders, it is far too complicated to diagnose truly in both children and teenagers; their brains are still developing (Kahn, 2012) and their behavior can be shrugged off with a “kids will be kids.”

Psychopaths make up one percent of the population (Clarke, 2005 as cited in Caponecchia, Sun, & Wyatt; Neumann and Hare, 2008) and the national cost of psychopathy is estimated to $460 billion in a single year, which is ten times more than the cost of depression. This can be explained because psychopaths tend to be arrested repeatedly (Kahn 2012). Psychopathy is a serious personality disorder; it is described as a callous, shadow, and manipulative affective-interpersonal style blended with antisocial and reckless behavior (Hare, 1991 as cited in Blair, 2006). For over two decades, Paul Frick, a psychologist at the University of New Orleans has studied the risk factors for psychopathy in children (Kahn, 2012). In one instance, Frick came across a boy who cut off the tail of the family cat piece by piece, and felt no remorse. In another instance, nine year...
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