Can you call a 9 year old a psychopath?

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Fascinating article. I love reading stuff like this.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/ma...pagewanted=all

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I've been studying serial killers for 30+ years and I do believe you can call a 9 year old a psychopath.
Is this particular kid a psychopath? He doesn't seem to have the more usual tendencies but I'm an amateur researcher not an expert so who knows.
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I've been studying serial killers for 30+ years and I do believe you can call a 9 year old a psychopath.
Is this particular kid a psychopath? He doesn't seem to have the more usual tendencies but I'm an amateur researcher not an expert so who knows.
Originally Posted by jeepcurlygurl
Most of the books I've read on the subject seem to infer that it is a genetic thing. I find that so interesting.
Haha, this reminded me of the movie 'We Need to Talk About Kevin'
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So many kids nowadays are diagnosed with autism that I think it sometimes muddles research on this sort of subject.
In the case of serial killers it often seems to be the combination of genetics, an abusive upbringing, head injuries/illness that makes them who they are. And they are also saying that there is a difference in brain scans between psychopaths and normal people.
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I've been studying serial killers for 30+ years and I do believe you can call a 9 year old a psychopath.
Is this particular kid a psychopath? He doesn't seem to have the more usual tendencies but I'm an amateur researcher not an expert so who knows.
Originally Posted by jeepcurlygurl
Most of the books I've read on the subject seem to infer that it is a genetic thing. I find that so interesting.
Originally Posted by Nej
Well, personality is mostly ruled by genetics.
The article did discuss the father's antisocial behavior when he was a child, so genetics could definitely be a factor. But they also mentioned environmental factors, such as Michael's earlier diagnosis of firstborn syndrome. IMO, mental disorders are too complex to be one or the other. They are most likely a combination of factors.

I thought the differences between behaviors exhibited by children with psychopathic tendencies, versus those with OCD, other impulse disorders, and those with ordinary behavioral problems to be really interesting.

The researchers definitely have something worth studying. I mean, even the journalist's personal observations and interactions with Michael are really disturbing.

When the author mentioned the bit about the Criminal Minds episode, I was like yea! because Anne and Miguel's story instantly reminded me of it.

And also the part about Michael growing up to be a Nobel Prize winner or a serial killer was very sad. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to love a child with so many negative tendencies and personality traits. My heart broke a little when she also said that raising him was joyless.
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Chilling.

I'm sure many people do have sympathy for loving, non-abusive parents of psychopaths.

I feel for the 2 younger boys. It is difficult growing up in the shadow of a sibling who has issues.

Reading that the father also had problems as a child makes me wonder if when planning to marry/have children, do people disclose their childhood issues to their partners.
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... they are also saying that there is a difference in brain scans between psychopaths and normal people.
Originally Posted by jeepcurlygurl
i think it was an episode of Nova several years ago that featured an episode on this. they had the autopsy results on Jeffery Dahmer's brain and how very different it is from "normal" brains.
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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.
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Last edited by Eilonwy; 05-14-2012 at 10:44 AM.
I'm definitely no expert, but I think psychopath is a word that has pretty much become synonimous with serial killer in our minds, but only some psychopaths/sociopaths actually fall into that category. And yes, it sucks to label a child that way (technically, they're calling them C.U., and that may or may not represent sociopathic tendencies), but I think they're right to do the research.

If there's a chance they can come up with helpfull treatments, then it's worth it. Better than to ignore the problem because it's too unpleasant to think about and deal with the horrible consequences later. Even the child doesn't become a criminal, they could still benefit from learning empathy. There are other ways sociopaths can behave that are also problematic, violence isn't the only issue.

This all has to be done with great caution and responsibility, of course. I am curious as to whether putting all those kids with C.U. together (the "summer camp") is a good idea. Should they be put in an environment whith other manipulative children? Might that not give them a sense of belonging, make them think that their behavour is somehow normal?
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Last edited by cympreni; 06-06-2014 at 09:49 PM.
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?

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If it was my kid exhibiting this behavior, I would want the research to happen.

A few years ago, not far from here, an 11 year old boy murdered his father's 8 1/2 months pregnant fiance (found guilty of 1st degree murder and some other charge I think). He shot her in her sleep, with other kids in the house. Then walked his stepsister to school.
From what I hear from folks in the system, he has shown no remorse and has had issues for awhile. I don't know the whole history of this kid so I'm not sure I'd label him a psychopath, but I'm betting people close to him wish they would have done more to get him the help he needed.
And, psychopath or not, he will be free in 7 years.


Edited a million times because I can't type a clear sentence.
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Last edited by jeepcurlygurl; 05-14-2012 at 01:48 PM.
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.

Last edited by sleepymeko; 05-14-2012 at 02:04 PM.
Um......thanks for the info?

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If it was my kid exhibiting this behavior, I would want the research to happen.

A few years ago, not far from here, an 11 year old boy murdered his father's 8 1/2 months pregnant fiance (found guilty of 1st degree murder and some other charge I think). He shot her in her sleep, with other kids in the house. Then walked his stepsister to school.
From what I hear from folks in the system, he has shown no remorse and has had issues for awhile. I don't know the whole history of this kid so I'm not sure I'd label him a psychopath, but I'm betting people close to him wish they would have done more to get him the help he needed.
And, psychopath or not, he will be free in 7 years.


Edited a million times because I can't type a clear sentence.
Originally Posted by jeepcurlygurl
I remember that case. That kid looked eerie.


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I thought it was really interesting when they mentioned a study from the 1970s showing that all psychopathic adults in the study were antisocial as children, but only about 50% of the antisocial children grew up to be psychopathic adults. That tells me that the right environment can (hopefully) override innate tendencies.

I used to know someone that I'm pretty sure is sociopathic, or at least has a lot of sociopathic tendencies. He is not a serial killer (most sociopaths aren't), but harms people in other ways. He does not form true attachments or relationships with others and does not show remorse for his wrongdoing.
I think there are lots more sociopathic people out there than we realize. It's only the ones who turn into serial killers that get the attention.

I read a book on serial killers and lots of them harmed people just to "see what would happen". I found it interesting that many of the kids in the article performed similar "experiments".


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