Can you call a 9 year old a psychopath?

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I think there are lots more sociopathic people out there than we realize.
Originally Posted by Nej
a book called Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work talked about the tendency of these types of people to succeed in the business world.
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Yes, there are many more psychopaths/sociopaths and serial killers out there than people might think. In adulthood they are very good at seeming 'normal'.
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Haha, this reminded me of the movie 'We Need to Talk About Kevin'
Originally Posted by sleepymeko
i've been afraid to watch this. is there bad animal stuff in it?
Originally Posted by claudine19
The movie doesn't show him killing the gerbil. They just talk about how the gerbil was found in the garbage disposal.

Now that I think about it, the most disturbing thing about the movie was Ezra's (Kevin's) dead eyes.
Originally Posted by sleepymeko
I love that movie. Ezra did an amazing performance. It encourages me to buy the novel.

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First off, this is the NYT Magazine. It's entertainment, not a peer-reviewed research journal. Non-academic publications tend to grossly exaggerate real science to make it sound more interesting.

As with most things, it's nature + nurture. People can have the sort of brain activity found in sociopaths, but not be sociopaths themselves. They had the potential for it, but it was never triggered by environmental factors.

Also, children's brains change so much that it's not appropriate to diagnose them as sociopaths. There's a good chance that they'll grow out of it as their brains mature.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
Um, no, the NYT Sunday mag isn't "entertainment." it's journalism--fact-checked, heavily edited and then copy-edited for accuracy. Obviously it's not a peer-reviewed, academic journal. That's not its function. But it's a highly respected publication. "Grossly exaggerate" isn't tolerated.
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First off, this is the NYT Magazine. It's entertainment, not a peer-reviewed research journal. Non-academic publications tend to grossly exaggerate real science to make it sound more interesting.

As with most things, it's nature + nurture. People can have the sort of brain activity found in sociopaths, but not be sociopaths themselves. They had the potential for it, but it was never triggered by environmental factors.

Also, children's brains change so much that it's not appropriate to diagnose them as sociopaths. There's a good chance that they'll grow out of it as their brains mature.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
Um, no, the NYT Sunday mag isn't "entertainment." it's journalism--fact-checked, heavily edited and then copy-edited for accuracy. Obviously it's not a peer-reviewed, academic journal. That's not its function. But it's a highly respected publication. "Grossly exaggerate" isn't tolerated.
Originally Posted by journotraveler
I agree that NYT is journalism. However, I think what Eilowny is referring to is the media's tendency to take one random scientific study and create headlines such as "The cure for xyz" or "Vegetables cause xyz cancer" etc. I've heard many researchers complain about this. The media seems to dismiss the fact that correlation does not prove causation and get people fired up about something that might be nothing.

I wouldn't discredit the whole article just because it isn't an academic journal entry. I read it. It seems well written and well researched (for its purpose) to me. As with all things, I'd just say "consider the source".
"Grossly exaggerate" isn't tolerated.
Originally Posted by journotraveler
I'm sorry, but this is demonstrably untrue. Even if the distortion isn't intended, it still happens all the time. Probably every single issue.

News media, even highly respected shows and publications, constantly regurgitate unchecked "facts" and turn "no statistically significant difference" into "LOOK AT THIS HUGE DIFFERENCE." Or they focus on researchers who are hacks: fearmongering, offering quack remedies, or skewing data to reaffirm stereotypes.

I know that you work as a journalist, and I'm not targeting you. But it's a real problem that really frustrates me.

Last edited by Eilonwy; 05-14-2012 at 08:37 PM.
Just watched a show on Bio called "Killer Kids", that lends some credence to this school of thought. Actually the overall series makes you wonder if there is some validity to the subject matter.

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Fascinating read.
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I've always been interested in this subject and think early studies could be very beneficial. The fact that they'll all unavoidably be test groups, until a successful method is established, remains a little unsettling. The words, "this method was once believed to..." did run through my mind.

I didn't find the part about Michael grabbing the recorder and erasing all shocking for a 9 y.o either. Children are not dumb. It was clear that he was working the crowd, but not illogical for him to destroy that proof. The part where his brother suddenly started crying, and he rushed to comfort him, flashing a smile, disturbed me more.

I am also not sure if empathy can be taught. I do believe some learn it later in life, based on personal circumstance, and some just learn to fake it. Perhaps they could do good with some cases.

Personal story time, imagine that. My BFF grew up with non existent parents. They were known to frequently take off for weeks and leave their young kids with no food, money, or transportation. As a result, all 3 children quit school. The oldest, a daughter, had 3 children by age 21. The middle, my Bestie who I adore, has some odd expectations of what the world owes him but faired far better than the rest. The youngest... He grew up killing small animals, refusing to believe love existed, and often saying that he wanted to know what killing someone felt like. He realized his dream at 24. He is at the end of a 12 year stretch for 2nd degree murder. Drugs and his younger next door neighbor were accomplices, but the neighbor only got 4 years. My BFF's bro did change his tune after the fact. He felt and showed remorse. The very charismatic and charming little neighbor boy... If I see him walking down the same street as me, I'm crossing to the other side.

You never know.
When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??


Last edited by Fifi.G; 05-15-2012 at 03:38 AM.
Paul Frick, a psychologist at the University of New Orleans

I know of him! I went to UNO and my roomie majored in psych. He is head of the department. I have never formally met him, but roomie always said he was a very smart man who knew what he was talking about.

It makes my a bit giddy to see my school mentioned in the News!

I feel bad for the parents. I have had relatives with difficult children, and they said sometimes it was hard just to be in the same house as their child.

i've been afraid to watch this. is there bad animal stuff in it?
Originally Posted by claudine19
The movie doesn't show him killing the gerbil. They just talk about how the gerbil was found in the garbage disposal.

Now that I think about it, the most disturbing thing about the movie was Ezra's (Kevin's) dead eyes.
Originally Posted by sleepymeko
I love that movie. Ezra did an amazing performance. It encourages me to buy the novel.
Originally Posted by Chikyuu
I've never seen the movie, but the book is very good. Disturbing, but good.
I haven't got the slightest idea how to change people, but I still keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.
First off, this is the NYT Magazine. It's entertainment, not a peer-reviewed research journal. Non-academic publications tend to grossly exaggerate real science to make it sound more interesting.

As with most things, it's nature + nurture. People can have the sort of brain activity found in sociopaths, but not be sociopaths themselves. They had the potential for it, but it was never triggered by environmental factors.

Also, children's brains change so much that it's not appropriate to diagnose them as sociopaths. There's a good chance that they'll grow out of it as their brains mature.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
Did you read the article? Because it states the above in there.
I haven't got the slightest idea how to change people, but I still keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.
Did you read the article? Because it states the above in there.
Originally Posted by rileyb
I did. I was responding to the question in the thread title.
"Grossly exaggerate" isn't tolerated.
Originally Posted by journotraveler
I'm sorry, but this is demonstrably untrue. Even if the distortion isn't intended, it still happens all the time. Probably every single issue.

News media, even highly respected shows and publications, constantly regurgitate unchecked "facts" and turn "no statistically significant difference" into "LOOK AT THIS HUGE DIFFERENCE." Or they focus on researchers who are hacks: fearmongering, offering quack remedies, or skewing data to reaffirm stereotypes.

I know that you work as a journalist, and I'm not targeting you. But it's a real problem that really frustrates me.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
Seriously? Every single time, and you can demonstrate this? There are journalists who cover science, who have science degrees or medical degrees themselves, like NPR's Shankar Vedantam and the NYT's William Broad, who take accurate reporting about science very seriously.

I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, so let's just agree to disagree. I don't want to derail the thread. I just really hate when people make sweeping, blanket statements about the media like we're all cynical manipulators out to distort the news/information.

ETA: Jennifer Kahn, the author of the article in question, has a degree in astrophysics.
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Last edited by journotraveler; 05-15-2012 at 09:39 AM.
"Grossly exaggerate" isn't tolerated.
Originally Posted by journotraveler
I'm sorry, but this is demonstrably untrue. Even if the distortion isn't intended, it still happens all the time. Probably every single issue.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
Seriously? Every single time, and you can demonstrate this?
Originally Posted by journotraveler
I was saying that it's demonstrably true that gross exaggerations of research findings are tolerated. Then I switched to a statement that I can't, of course, demonstrate or prove. I guess I didn't phrase that well.

I just really hate when people make sweeping, blanket statements about the media like we're all cynical manipulators out to distort the news/information.
Originally Posted by journotraveler
Journotraveler, I don't think of journalists as cynical manipulators And I think you have every right to feel frustrated by blanket statements to that effect. At the same time, I do see serious problems with the way non-academic media present research. But, although I recognize those problems, I don't think that journalists are hacks. It's like how I think there are serious problems with the way the doctor-patient relationship is constructed, but I don't distrust doctors.

ETA: Jennifer Kahn, the author of the article in question, has a degree in astrophysics.
Originally Posted by journotraveler
Well, I don't have any particular quarrel with the article from the OP. But a degree in astrophysics doesn't qualify her to interpret research related to psychology. I have degrees too, and they don't mean that I'm qualified to interpret astrophysics research. See, that's one of the problems I'm talking about. A person really needs to have expertise in a field in order to properly evaluate the research that comes out of it. Sure, I can read through an astrophysics journal, and look up all the unfamiliar math and definitions. But I still won't really understand what I've read. I won't understand what the results actually are, I won't understand what they mean for the field, and I won't be able to evaluate their legitimacy or the way the study was designed.

Last edited by Eilonwy; 05-15-2012 at 10:02 AM.
I loved "We need to talk about Kevin" - although I think it would have been more interesting had they not given doubt as to whether or not he felt remorse at the end. But this was right after I read "my life with serial killers" and was totally on the 'he's a sociopath and therefore doesn't feel remorse' camp. Tilda Swinton was amazing.

I guess this intrigues me because I feel compassion and empathy for everyone. The idea of people lacking this trait is so totally chilling to me. To me a person lacking humanity (and I think people can do horrific things and still posses humanity, it all depends what is driving them fear, hate etc) is beyond chilling.
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Journotraveler, I don't think of journalists as cynical manipulators And I think you have every right to feel frustrated by blanket statements to that effect. At the same time, I do see serious problems with the way non-academic media present research. But, although I recognize those problems, I don't think that journalists are hacks. It's like how I think there are serious problems with the way the doctor-patient relationship is constructed, but I don't distrust doctors.

ETA: Jennifer Kahn, the author of the article in question, has a degree in astrophysics.
Originally Posted by journotraveler
Well, I don't have any particular quarrel with the article from the OP. But a degree in astrophysics doesn't qualify her to interpret research related to psychology. I have degrees too, and they don't mean that I'm qualified to interpret astrophysics research. See, that's one of the problems I'm talking about. A person really needs to have expertise in a field in order to properly evaluate the research that comes out of it. Sure, I can read through an astrophysics journal, and look up all the unfamiliar math and definitions. But I still won't really understand what I've read. I won't understand what the results actually are, I won't understand what they mean for the field, and I won't be able to evaluate their legitimacy or the way the study was designed.
Originally Posted by Eilonwy
I hear you.

My point was, though, that most science writers gravitate toward that beat because they already have an interest in that field--they've studied it, etc. They often do fellowships in science writing, etc. Just as a number of journalists who cover legal affairs are also lawyers.

But ultimately, they're journalists. Their job is to interview other people--the ones who are the experts--do reporting/research and then distill what is often complex, wonky material into a narrative that is easily digestible, relevant and informative for the lay person. (And any journalist worth his/her salt will go back to the experts and fact check with them.)

That's a skill, too. Personally, I wouldn't want to read a science article by a scientist who isn't also a trained writer/journalist.
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Last edited by journotraveler; 05-15-2012 at 10:29 AM.
My heart really goes out to the parents and that's all I can say about it.
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My heart really goes out to the parents and that's all I can say about it.
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
True dat. I can't even begin to imagine.
Yes, there are many more psychopaths/sociopaths and serial killers out there than people might think. In adulthood they are very good at seeming 'normal'.
Originally Posted by jeepcurlygurl
"The Sociopath Next Door" was an interesting book about the prevalence of ASPD. The author said about 4% of the US likely are sociopaths.
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