Monday, December 7, 2009

New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths

So reads the headline of a hilarious article from the Onion, sent by a reader. Selections are below, but read the entire article here.
A study published Monday in The Journal Of Child Psychology And Psychiatry has concluded that an estimated 98 percent of children under the age of 10 are remorseless sociopaths with little regard for anything other than their own egocentric interests and pleasures.

According to Dr. Leonard Mateo, a developmental psychologist at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the study, most adults are completely unaware that they could be living among callous monsters who would remorselessly exploit them to obtain something as insignificant as an ice cream cone or a new toy.

"The most disturbing facet of this ubiquitous childhood disorder is an utter lack of empathy," Mateo said. "These people—if you can even call them that—deliberately violate every social norm without ever pausing to consider how their selfish behavior might affect others. It's as if they have no concept of anyone but themselves."

"The depths of depravity that these tiny psychopaths are capable of reaching are really quite chilling," Mateo added.

According to the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, a clinical diagnostic tool, sociopaths often display superficial charm, pathological lying, manipulative behaviors, and a grandiose sense of self-importance. After observing 700 children engaged in everyday activities, Mateo and his colleagues found that 684 exhibited these behaviors at a severe or profound level.

The children studied also displayed many secondary hallmarks of antisocial personality disorder, most notably poor impulse control, an inability to plan ahead, and a proclivity for violence—often in the form of extended tantrums—when their needs were not immediately met.

"Children will use any tool at their disposal to secure gratification," Mateo said. "And as soon as the desire is fulfilled, be it some material want or simply an insatiable and narcissistic desire for validation, they quickly become bored and lose interest in their victims, all the while thinking only of satisfying whatever their next hedonistic craving might be."

Mateo added that even when subjects were directly confronted with the consequences of their inexplicable behavior, they had little or no capacity for expressing guilt, other than insincere utterances of "sorry" that were usually coerced.

Because children are so skilled at mimicking normal human emotions and will say anything without consideration for accuracy or truth, Mateo said that people often don't realize that they've been exploited until it is too late. Though he maintained that anyone can fall victim to a child's egocentric behavior, Mateo warned that grandmothers were especially susceptible to the self- serving machinations of tiny little sociopaths.
According to renowned child psychologist Dr. Pritha Singh, author of Born Without Souls, diagnosing preadolecents as sociopaths is primarily a theoretical interest, as the disorder is considered untreatable.

"We've tried behavior modification therapies, but children actually learn from our techniques and become even more adept at manipulating others while concealing their shameless misanthropy," Singh said. "Sadly, experience has taught us there is little hope for rehabilitation."


  1. So then maybe adult sociopaths are just an aged version of a child that never grew up?

  2. Anonymous, you just made me have a realization about myself...

  3. This is funny. And it reinforces the idea to me that sociopaths are underdeveloped, and will never be interesting because they'll always be too self absorbed to develop an interesting personality. Sociopaths put no meaning on anything, so they're boring, and tehy never change. Funny, but also true.

  4. or maybe the child is being raised by people who are so wacked on anti depressants that they no longer FEEL!! junior is just acting the way he was shown to act.

  5. So then junior become sociopathic by default? That what you're saying muymalgal?

    --daft's real killer

  6. i wouldnt call sociopathic. i would call it lack of parental guidance or being raised in a moral void. i still don't see them as sociopathic as much as undereducated. probably will figure it all out with exposure to influences outside of the family unit. like the 17 year old kid who killed his little brother. likes to believe he doesn't "feel", he is going to learn to feel real quick as he comes to the realization that he just bought himself a lifetime room to the "iron hotel".

  7. I don't know about that. kids are selfish and good manipulators, but not sociopaths. I don't think I was a sociopath when I was under 10 even though I remember being intentionally manipulative. (EG: crying, lying, and making a scene just to manipulate people into giving me what I wanted). I doubt anyone will bother reading my anecdotes, but I'm going to post them anyway.

    sometimes I felt kind of bad about some stuff though. Like this one time when I flushed a bunch of rocks and stuff down a toilet at school just to see what would happen because it was too boring at school. You wouldn't believe how much water shot out of it like a fire hose. I've never seen a toilet overflow like that before or since. it broke so bad the janitor couldn't fix it and they had to call in a professional plumber. I didn't get in trouble for it, though, but I felt kind of guilty. most of the stuff I did didn't make me feel guilty at the time, though.

    Like this one time, I didn't want to eat soup because it was nasty, so I mixed condiments in it until it looked exactly like real barf and started playing with it by launching it at people with my spork. They couldn't tell it was me because I launched it up really high and they weren't looking at me, so when it landed they just thought a bird crapped on them or something and freaked out about it. Then I poured the rest of it into an empty chip bag and gave it to this other girl as a joke. I was like, "hey, do you want some chips" and she was like, "ok!" and then I gave it to her and when she looked in the bag, she thought it was real barf and she got so grossed out she started barfing when she saw it.

    I'm not a sociopath. I probably have adhd though which would explain impulsivity, hyperness, and boredom. a lot of people I know suggest I have mild aspergers. I think I'm just introverted, though. I just didn't develop much social skills because later I stopped socializing. I don't see the point of socializing. It's not like most people are that interesting for long.

  8. Aren't all personality disorders extentions of the various phases we go through as children? Innocent child = sociophathic adult?

  9. This article was funny. Until I realized just how idiotic the "experiment" was. Obviously the scientist's running these experiments were biased and these cues were absorbed by the children. There is a reason that the double blind experiementation is the golden standard of research.

  10. I have been looking for the original article and I cannot find it. Is it really true?

  11. Sociopathy in a child is not inherent.

  12. Children are conditioned by their parents. It can be overwhelming for an adult to explore all the moral implications involving the many different types of issues in life. For a child, just learning that sharing is good. Saying sorry is proper when one wrongs another (accidental or not), among other things. For an adult, trying to set an example to one's own child when the child continues to perceive, make sense of, etc of adults each time they see them (consciously, subconsciously, or unconsciously) while keeping in mind the things very young children are currently learning, understanding, and exploring (while making sense of things they perceive with adults because they are intermixed) is utterly confusing. Infants growing up are more emotionally sensitive and emotionally self-conscious. Paying close attention to a child's emotional state is one of many vital parts to maintaining a level of emotional stability. When a child feels emotionally betrayed, it does likely set the transition for becoming more sociopathic. We do not really assign so much emotional value to a person's psyche because we just see them as interchangeable things, mere expressions on biochemical responses, something intangible (at least in relation to science), or we do not see it as a problem until it severely affects and/or causes serious harm to things of the physical world. There are variations on the sociopathic behaviour with children as well as adult. One of the things I strongly believe must be recognized between the parent and the child is the special treatment applies to those within immediate family (assuming that parents are being well-informed, educated, and detailed extensively about it). Or suppose the parent is being perceived as inconsistent with their teachings (if any) and actions (which can very much obscure a child's clear-minded thinking) when there are indications of the parent being sociopathic (a child can recognize those things subconsciously or unconsciously, but have a lot more difficulty being able to make sense of it because of possible abuse of the trust by the parent when a child is being conditioned to trust in the parent whole-heartedly), the child picks up on the behavior and acts upon it in their personal surroundings. Either way, the sociopathic behavior is conditioned from one person to another.

  13. If society wants a reduction in crime, I would propose a Parental Act for the Criminal Code to ensure a high moral responsibility involving the upbringing and development of the child. But either way, emotional betrayal (or betrayal of any form of a deeply profound and sacred trust between two individuals) can and usually does set the transition to some levels of sociopathic behaviour. How much exactly? That depends.

  14. Emotions are tied in with things of the physical world. Some things in Psychiatry attempts to remove things like compassion (or things of the subconscious and/or unconscious) from the person's physical being. It is dispassionate.

  15. 'The Onion' is a fake satiric news source and somehow I can imagine that M.E just wanted to play a prank on you. Either that or she's stupid, which I would find hard to believe.


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