Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sociopaths in the news: rape/incest and filicide

Today's theme is horrible things parents can do to their children.

First is a British man who was jailed for raping two of his daughters and fathering many children with them over 27 years. The two daughters were impregnanted a total of 19 times. Nine children survived, five were miscarried and five were terminated. Seven of the living children suffer genetic deformities.

There is nothing about this man that would lead me to believe that he is a sociopath other than the depraved nature of the crimes. Actually I suspect that he is not a sociopath because I would expect a sociopath to use birth control. I think in general the thought of procreating gives sociopaths the chills. Maybe we suffer the paranoia of many a medieval monarch that our children will grow up to be our doom. This seems especially likely when you have raped the child's mother. The fact that this father did not use any sort of birth control makes me want to chalk it up to the empaths' particular brand of evil.

The next story is about a two children who were saved from a freezing river last winter only to be killed by their mother. Well, the two-year old died (by a slit throat), but the seven-year old survived. There are some interesting quotes from law professors (experts?) about the nature of evil:
Cases of mothers who kill their children, like Susan Smith and Andrea Yates, continue to fascinate the public, even as the rates of filicide -- the act of a parent who kills his or her own child -- have remained fairly stable.

"Because these cases are so tragic, they pull at your heartstrings, but they happen all the time," said Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, California.

In 2005, 555 children under the age of five were victims of homicide, compared with 544 in 1976. The rate peaked in 1991 at 778 and bottomed out in 1971 at 511, according to statistics from the Department of Justice.

Another fairly stable statistic: In more than 50 percent of child homicides, the killer is a parent.

"The natural defense to anticipate is insanity, because why would a mother kill her own child?" Levenson asked. "It certainly can be insanity, but it's not always the case. Perfectly sane people can do horrible things, and they do, every day."

Mothers can be motivated to kill their children by several factors, according to criminologist James Alan Fox, Lipman Family professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University.

Some act on genuine psychotic delusions, as jurors determined to be the case with Texas mother Andrea Yates, who told doctors she drowned her five children because God told her to do so. Others can be motivated by selfish reasons: Susan Smith's alleged motive for killing her children was that she perceived them to be an obstacle in her relationship with her boyfriend.

"It's a crazy thing to do, but crazy describes the behavior, not the mind," Fox said, adding that between 300 and 350 children have been homicide victims in 2008.

"It doesn't make sense to most of us, but that doesn't mean the state of mind of the person is mentally ill. You may know what you're doing and have very selfish motivations," he explained.
Out of all these murderous mothers, I think the closest to a sociopath is probably Susan Smith, next closest is this Iowan mother, and least likely is Andrea Yates. Sociopaths don't need god telling them to kill someone -- their self-interest can be enough. Of course, sociopaths rarely kill because killing is complicated, messy, risky, and other things that you would expect rational beings to avoid. But sometimes there is sufficient justification for killing -- like when countries go to war or execute prisoners. You know, killing for a good cause.


  1. I wonder how the threat of prison would affect what story each of these two parents would tell in court. Because my first inclination would be to think that neither of them is going to survive long in prison. If they knew they were going to prison for sure, would they try to pretend to be crazy just to alter their public persona? So people wouldn't see them as such a monster?


  2. Andrea Yates was whacked out on antidepressants, wasn't she?
    As far as Susan Smith, I always thought there was something biological and unconscious there. Animals kill their babies all the time. No one knows why. They can sense that the baby will become ill or won't survive or something.
    Well, who's to say there wasn't something like that in this case? She ditched them just to try to suck up to some guy? That just seems a bit thin to me.
    She might not even realize why she did it, but there could be biological forces at work, beyond our knowledge or control.

  3. Yeah, infanticide doesn't seem as horrendous as people make it out to be.

  4. From just reading this post, I think you fall more into the narcissistic category more so than the sociopath. Sociopaths formulate a goal or have a behavioral pattern which is anti-synchronous with society. You are so caught up with the 'idea' of what you perceive to be a sociopath you misunderstand the goals and the modus operatus of some of these individuals. The grandfather who locked up his children siring grandchild did it on purpose to increase the pool of sex slaves he had at his disposal. A simply analogy being, you breed chickens so that you can eat the eggs the offsprings lays.

    There is no glamour or special qualities you seem to think defines a sociopath, the only thing we've all got in common is the being the antithesis of altruism. True Randism at it's finest.

  5. Stupid sociopathic trash. You know we are all going to kill you soon. Your like parasites on the human psyche. We can see you now... This is going to make the witch trials look civil. Let the cleansing begin.

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