Monday, March 24, 2014

Child sociopath: Early intervention as treatment

Sociopathic children represent a unique quandary for people who love children and hate sociopaths. They are also the most impressionable, which some see as an invitation to target them with attempts at early intervention. From Fox News:
Criminologist Nathalie Fontaine of Indiana University studies the tendency toward being callous and unemotional (CU) in children between 7 and 12 years old. Children with these traits have been shown to have a higher risk of becoming psychopaths as adults.

"We're not suggesting that some children are psychopaths, but CU traits can be used to identify a subgroup of children who are at risk," Fontaine said.

Yet her research showed that these traits aren't fixed, and can change in children as they grow. So if psychologists identify children with these risk factors early on, it may not be too late.

"We can still help them," Fontaine said. "We can implement intervention to support and help children and their families, and we should."

Neuroscientists' understanding of the plasticity, or flexibility, of the brain called neurogenesis supports the idea that many of these brain differences are not fixed.

"Brain research is showing us that neurogenesis can occur even into adulthood," said psychologist Patricia Brennan of Emory University in Atlanta. "Biology isn’t destiny. There are many, many places you can intervene along that developmental pathway to change what's happening in these children."
How do you accomplish this early intervention?
"You don’t have to do direct brain surgery to change the way the brain functions," Brennan said. "You can do social interventions to change that."

Fontaine's studies, for example, suggest that kids who display callous and unemotional traits don't respond as well to traditional parenting and punishment methods such as time-outs. Instead of punishing bad behavior, programs that emphasize rewarding good behavior with positive reinforcement seem to work better.

Raine and his colleagues are also testing whether children who take supplemental pills of omega-3 fatty acids — also known as fish oil — can show improvement. Because this nutrient is thought to be used in cell growth, neuroscientists suspect it can help brain cells grow larger, increase the size of axons (the part of neurons that conducts electrical impulses), and regulate brain cell function.

"We are brain scanning children before and after treatment with omega-3," Raine said. "We are studying kids to see if it can reduce aggressive behavior and improve impaired brain areas. It's a biological treatment, but it's a relatively benign treatment that most people would accept."
I'm conflicted about this news. On the one hand I am reminded of very well-meaning attempts at early intervention for children of first generation immigrants, Romani children, aboriginal children, native children, and other efforts at forced integration and assimilation into the "norm." On the other hand some sociopaths really do suffer immensely. To the extent that these efforts demonstrate society's increasing awareness of sociopaths and desire to cater more carefully to sociopathic needs, e.g. using very consistent incentive schemes instead of punishment to achieve desired behavior, I see it as a step in the right direction.


  1. Positive reinforcement was something that really worked for me rather than shouting and violence.

  2. You can't change a chameleon brain.

  3. You cannot change a shapeshifter, correct. But also, despite the fact that I'd advise anyone to NOT take for granted the whole "we just want to help them" statement, they are in fact trying. Brain surgery is scary though, and bullshit in many minds and not just my own. "You're not like us, meet Mr. Scalpel".

    What's next? EVERY girl will be given a smaller nose and larger breasts via plastic surgery as a requirement to enter middle school?

    Well what the hell, I'll just go ahead and reveal myself a little bit here. Go ahead and be fascist as such. I really don't care I just talk like I do, but the moment you are fascist AND possess double standards as such I will shoot you :)

    Maybe that's WHY I exist this way.

  4. I don't see any moral dilemmas here. Whether or not the children are showing sociopathic traits, you can't go wrong with proper nutrition and being nicer to your kids. If that causes them not to be sociopaths, then obviously it's correcting an illness, not forcing a personality change.

  5. Personally I believe that integrated - and socially inclusive - early intervention (*never* involuntary psychosurgey) is appropriate if *any* child's behavioural, social, or emotional difficulties are disadvantaging them (not just their parents) or are likely to limit their ability to live independently or to *their* fullest potential based on *evidence* as opposed to myth.

    However, I strongly feel that their problems and needs *must* be understood and addressed within the context of the impact of their life circumstances as well as other factors including their personality, and not by psychological diagnosis alone. Their parents, who are obviously responsible for much of their environment, should be provided with practical and emotional support or education as needed too.

    Because psychopathy is perceived as a public health issue to prevent and control I'm cynical as to whether improved outcomes for the child would take precedence over improved outcomes for the parents or community - but if the true aim were to minimise the impact of behavioural, social or emotional difficulties on the child and to prevent their progression to more serious problems such as ending up in juvenile detention I'd support early identification and intervention.


  7. A sociopath becomes a new person every week.

  8. Not true, noob. I've lasted for years at a time. Never indefinite, but years as opposed to weeks. Noob.

  9. Sea Witch, what do you do for a living? If that's the wrong question, would you list your primary hobby(s) instead.

  10. It seems pretty benign, a stress on positive reinforcement vs. punishment. Whether parents will follow it with any consistency is a different story.

  11. My parents treated me with the upmost compassion, especially my mother. I was a handful at times, misunderstood, yet I also was fiercely independent and found outlets for my aggressions and differences. Yes, there was chaos and all the other bag of tricks involved with family life yet I felt rooted as much as I felt like a stranger in a strange land.

    Kindness and feeling worth is primary for children even if they are wired normally. We are social creatures primarily. (think chimpanzee picking parasites out of each other's fur for social bonding)

    "very consistant incentive programs" is like affection or "food treat" training for animals. I have to remind myself of this, when my inclination is aggressive, it does work its magic.

    Perhaps there needs to be an intervention into what traits to enhance or reward in atypical brains for higher potential rather than making "normalcy" the goal.

  12. It seems that M.E. is moralizing and perhaps even empathizing with sociopathic children.


  13. M.E. & Everybody,

    ...I understand what you mean. And I agree with your ambivalence to some
    extent, but I have a few arguments.

    Oh yes, I remember how in my childhood good behavior and deeds were
    passed by in silence, whereas all the bad conduct was being focused on.
    I used to think I was singled out to the extreme and was angered about how
    unfair it was since I myself knew and thought I had so much good to offer.

    Now I can see that there were valid reasons for my being singled out and
    treated as harshly as I was, but it still doesn't make it any more right to take
    good behavior and obedience for granted to the extent that a child never
    hears a word of compliment. And there's no doubt in my mind that a lot of
    the bad that I have done could've been countered with a bit of appreciation,
    respect and honsty towards me.

    So in this regard I agree it's a good sign that research now begin to
    look also to such details. But I must insist the good is limited and more over: It is
    superficial and only a biproduct of the quest for a cure against Psychopathy and

    The main focus of the research and goal is still our extermination, the motivation
    for all that is being done in these years is still that we 0 the Sociopaths, Psychopaths
    and Antisocials, shall seize to exist. And it is not for our sake, it is not so that
    Sociopaths can suffer less!

    No, make no mistake! It is for THEIR sake: The NeuroTypical Empathic Mainstream People's sake!

    So guys, don't let yourself be fooled by this humane antagonism in disguise!!

  14. Anon 6:49 AM
    "A sociopath becomes a new person every week."

    Well guess what: So do common folks. Some Sociopaths are just better at it because they're more conscious about it. ;)

    Anon 8:03 AM
    "Not true, noob. I've lasted for years at a time. Never indefinite, but years as opposed to weeks. Noob."


    U 4got 2 tell him 2 "Learn how 2 play!" lol

    No One:

    "It seems that M.E. is moralizing and perhaps even empathizing with sociopathic children.


    No. It's not new. M.E. does think about such things and try to see things in a positive light from the mainstream perspective, once in a while.
    Understandable, if you ask me, but no breakthrough since it's a stable trait.

    One could say that it's too bad mainstream isn't as willing to close gabs or build bridges.
    Their putting forth this "It's for the children's best!" angle isn't really new either, and it's a bad attempt at making it all seem less of a determined war against a minority.

    Nazi Germany also had all sorts of humane reasons for eradicating the Jews, one of which was that it was for THEIR sake - the Jews'! Ah well, history will repeat itself. Habits die hard, and so on.

    The younger among M.E.'s readers might want to think twice before being open about what you are. - Me, I'm at a place where I ain't got much to loose, and I'm set on getting the best life has to offer before the "shit house goes down in flames"; and I just MUST try my utmost to see if I can do something truly good for mankind. It's in my blood, there's no helping it!
    If nothing else I'll make sure to leave my legacy with my offspring!

    Yeahh!!! ;)

    1. Kill yourself, monster. It's a favor to mankind.

    2. I find your goal to only be inflammatory.

      You describe why you should have pity? I think. That you would have appreciated, or maybe a better word.. would have prefered to have been able to manipulate more praise or better outcomes to your actions. That you would have actually enjoyed (?) the suggested intervention. I'm amused you do not let it support... because your stated outcome. However who knows about your actual motivations for commenting on every single easily inflammed person.

      Genocide or creation. Amusing enough parenting suggestions are all.. to modify behavior. Sometimes it's nice to just have it directed. Please don't give me a cookie, let me know what outcome you are seeking and the social pros and cons of the behavior.. and I will try and simulate the behavior. It's actually teaching me how to manipulate better and success gives me my own reward; AND it's also getting me to conform to the action.

      Typical stories are of irritating parents. And given the proposed precentage of this "dysfunction" .. lol would it be cost effective? Could it actually be inforced? It is nice.. to help the parents who are currently taking care of the child, to have help. As they often don't wish to be direct... or are uncomfortable being direct, or are.. scared of being direct in discussing behavior. Only the therapists *seem* to want that.

      Whatever, shifts over..

  15. My 'truly good' is not necessarily your 'good' at all.

    I hear from various sources my 'good' is in fact evil, but oh well...!

    Such is the facts of life. Can't please 'em all!

  16. Reward systems are pointless. What I can take is alot better that what someone else can give me. I've never been able to see the point of working because I don't feel as though I should have to work for my money(and I don't). I wasn't usually rewarded for good behaviour during my childhood and I was only punished for things that directly impacted on my parents(thats when they'd get abusive) so my punishments were inconsistent. I think my parents did experiment a little bit with me in terms of reward systems just to see what would work. At one point they actually started paying me to stay in school. It didn't work because in the end I decided that wasting my entire day wasn't worth a shitty little amount of money. Alot of the time they just didn't care.

  17. Reward systems are pointless when they're inconsistent or only done as a matter of convenience. I actually don't think it's a bad idea if it is done with care. Behavior modification language aside, it basically translates into "treat your kids with a certain amount of dignity and respect."

    It may also be an acknowledgement that those who are wired to focus more on costs and benefits--practical considerations--as opposed to emotions really don't respond to punishment well. (See Joe Newman's work on sociopathy: it could be a matter of how socio's process peripheral cues.) Possibly this can be taken as an admission that sociopathic neurology really isn't a deficit--it's just a difference.

  18. Is Charles Manson a narcissist or a psychopath? I was thinking malignant narcissism, they are the most nutty.

  19. So you behave how somebody else wants you to behave. You allow them to control you so you can win a prize. But you have to ask yourself how much is enough and is it really worth it? Your always going to want more than what they have to offer unless they're handing you the world(I know I would anyway. The novelty wears of as soon as you realise that your reward isn't making you as happy as its supposed to because there's always something bigger and better out there. It's better to follow your own guidelines and not take what other people say too seriously.

  20. i bet cesar millan's kids (does he have any?) are well behaved.
    a small amygdala leads to lack of fear of punishment, so yes, the evidence is that the carrot works better than the stick for psychopaths. kids are natural psychopaths and they need parents who are their parents not their friend. i'm gonna be an awesome dad one day :p

  21. Extermination? Cease to exist? What bullshit. You're not a race. The unborn sociopath is not your kindred. Who gives a fuck if he never becomes a sociopath? You will go on living. You will not be exterminated. You will not cease to exist. Such sensationalist stupidity... jesus.

  22. ... Hmm. I took fish oil as a kid. Ha.

  23. I should have learned how to reward my parents to ensure they behave like loving parents as opposed to behaving like mad dogs and cats.

    Humanity is really wasted on humanity. And, go ahead,call me a narcissist. I was above my parents by ten.

  24. Charlie sheen is live on Ustream right now, brandishing his copy of the Art of War.

  25. Thats just painful!!!!

  26. How does white writing on a black background affect the brain?

  27. "What's next? EVERY girl will be given a smaller nose and larger breasts via plastic surgery as a requirement to enter middle school?"

    ...Well, that's one way to totally miss the point. If you think that sort of comparison makes sense, I guess some of you really do feel alienated and ostracized in this world (and before I offend any of you, I'm not implying that you necessarily care). For that I am sorry.

    The size of ones nose and breasts does not, in most cases, interfere with normal daily functioning. I know, most sociopaths function just fine. And I'm not saying you're lesser beings, just because you're sociopaths.

    But as someone else said, you can't really go wrong with restructuring your child's environment for the better, providing them better nutrition, and so on. Regardless of the symptoms or problem. If it does help them, great. If positive things create a positive difference, how is that bad?

    If it doesn't work, well, we tried. It's kind of like people who say global warming isn't man-made, doesn't exist, blabla, so we might as well just keep on trashing it. Well, even if you believe that it's not man-made, what's so bad about treating the environment in a more sustainable and healthy manner, just because you happen to live in it and it's probably ultimately in your interest (and in the interest of mankind, but I know that's not your concern)?

  28. *trashing it

    By that I mean trashing the environment, though I think that was probably obvious.

  29. "Extermination? Cease to exist? What bullshit. You're not a race. The unborn sociopath is not your kindred. Who gives a fuck if he never becomes a sociopath? You will go on living. You will not be exterminated. You will not cease to exist. Such sensationalist stupidity... jesus."

    Yeah, I agree. Sheesh. You're taking holocaust way too lightly. But I see this sort of reaction a lot. I'm not sure if it stems from the exclusively egocentric world-view of a sociopath, or what. Is it a sincere concern, or is it just more manipulation? I mean, honestly. No giant race is being killed off. No ...PERSON is being killed off, for that matter. It's an attempt at rehabilitation that may or may not work, but there is nothing to lose if it does. I guess that's hard to see from a sociopath's perspective, but look. Genocide deals with the mass murder of innocent people for absolutely no reason other than bigoted bias. True, there is a large bias among neurotypicals to be ...well, anti-APD or something. But we kinda have good reason, since a lot of the time, you do nothing but inflict pain on others. You are not really the victims here.

    Oh well. I do want to say that reading this blog has increased my understanding of the sociopath's experience, and I think I'm more open-minded about the disorder as long as you're not off killing people or laughing at the misfortune of others. Which I now know is not the norm.

    But seriously, to compare this to some sort of ~extermination~ is way way waaay out of perspective.

  30. Charlie Sheen

    You're either in Sheen's-Korner or you're with the trolls


  31. Anon 8:12--You took the rants of one or two people and generalized them to an entire page of comments.

    I know it's probably too late to point that out to you (goodnight, zzz). Still, it's vaguely annoying. Sloppy...

  32. My reward system growing up was going to bed with food in my stomach and no extra bruises or cuts suffered after walking through the door.

    Curing sociopaths, psychopaths, and antisocials...hmm.

    You know what? There's enough of them to go around, in my book. Not to mention, the only fucking parents who would be sending their kids to shrinks and giving them stinky fish oil capsules and kind words to cure their rudeness would probably cover less than one percent of the kids who become them.

    It's simple. They're trying to figure out a less invasive way to get rid of the disorder.

    ASPD, and everything that falls under its umbrella is considered a threat to the State, and to society. You think they won't try to stamp it out if they could? Don't be foolish.

  33. Sheen is a narcissist with a severe narcissistic injury.

  34. He actually said this -

    Hi chuck, what are you hiding behind? Your narcissism, greed? Or is it your hatred of women?

  35. Drug-addled ManicMarch 9, 2011 at 2:11 AM

    I ♥ clang associations

  36. Sheen is in a full blown manic episode without the psychosis (yet?)
    This guy is going to come out of this very embarrassed. His friends of today are going to be his enemies when he comes down. Anyone see his "think tank" session? Mania craze.

  37. How long do you think it will be till/if he's in the hospital? Do you think this is the first episode for him? I'm thinking it might be.

  38. He's not manic he is a paranoid narcissist, he has a history of violence, which all were towards women, he has bad mother issues.

  39. I don't think he's a psychopath or a malignant narc just an NPD, he has a heart somewhere.

  40. he doesn't have a heart. he's a pyscho virgo. all virgos are psychos and all virgos are malignant narcissists, not benign, not just a little bit, not npd, but full blown pyschopathic narcissism. i should know, i'm surrounded by those nut jobs in my family and friend/social network.

  41. Drug-addled ManicMarch 9, 2011 at 5:09 AM

    Sure he's narcissistic, like so many professional actors, and has a history of domestic abuse. But aside from the fact that not all domestic abusers are clinical narcissists he also has a history of substance abuse including overdose – bipolar rage, anyone?

    To my mind he appears to be currently experiencing a manic psychosis complete with grandiose and persecutory delusions, false beliefs in special abilities, agitation, increased activity levels, and disordered thoughts that the world media and his other enablers are only helping him to deny.

    Will he lapse into a mixed state and try to kill himself? Will he be stabilised and treated? Or is it a Joaquin Phoenix style hoax? Only time will tell.

  42. I don't think it's a hoax.

  43. "his other enablers are only helping him to deny."

    Yes, and they're using him. That think tank just makes me squirm. They know he's nuts and they just smile and nod and tell him what they think he wants to hear. They are not his friends. -They're getting paid big bucks and he looks foolish. It pisses me off.

  44. anon 12:20
    He may be a narcissist and having a narcissistic injury, but it is a stress. Stress is what causes a major break with reality. Not all narcissists behave this way. Where are Carrie Fischer and Linda Hamilton, and all the other famous bipolars? Have any of the other famous bipolars said anything publicly?

  45. No. It's not new. M.E. does think about such things and try to see things in a positive light from the mainstream perspective, once in a while.
    Understandable, if you ask me, but no breakthrough since it's a stable trait.

    I was being facetious, Zawq.

  46. "We can still help them," Fontaine said. "We can implement intervention to support and help children and their families, and we should."

    How pathetic. I don't think know what a sociopath is.

  47. "Because psychopathy is perceived as a public health issue to prevent and control"

    It is a public health issue. Psychopaths are more likely than non-psychopaths to engage in violence towards others, and a great deal of research supports a link between being a victim of violence and a wide variety of different psychological problems. (And even physical health, given that stress hurts your health and that both eating disorders and suicidal behavior are associated with past victimization.) Furthermore, past victimization is also a risk factor for engaging in violence yourself. Abuse is contagious, and psychopaths are often the 'patient zero'.

    However, unlike many others, I don't think victimizers should be 'thrown to the wolves'. I believe that everyone's human rights must be respected, and a balance must be found between preventing future victimization and respecting the rights of the perpetrator. If we can use gentle methods like reward-based programs to prevent psychopathic kids from growing up to hurt others, that addresses both concerns. The kids won't be harmed by getting rewarded for good behavior, and if it's effective then they won't be causing as much harm to others.

    1. everything outside the norm (or non compiant) is precieved as something to controle
      welcome to 1984

  48. This is the fellow from the other day who expressed concern for
    M.E.'s welfare.
    Why would you assume that I am a stalker? Why is it so unnatural
    to be conserned about the welfare of OUR one-in-a-million M.E.?
    M.E. is no ordinary woman. If she were ordinary, do you think for
    one minute that anyone of you would bother to read her blog on
    a daily basis? You know she has a unique and special viewpoint,
    that's why you come here everyday.
    She has been at this 5yrs. How common is THAT for a sociopath?
    To be consistaint for such a length of time. How many posters have
    been following her the ENTIRE duration of those 5 years?
    I am 55 going on 56. I only learned SOME of the computer in Feb.
    of 2013. I am well read, and only interested in non-fiction. I am an
    Ennagram 4.5.
    I have been treated like crap and been a social outcast most of my
    life because I have the sex-appeal of a pile of road kill. I am a
    veteran of your bastard American public school system and have
    the psychological scars to show it. I am the classic "wussy," and am
    I threat to no one.
    If I was Adam Lanza, and had a lunk-head mother who had the bright idea to "bond" over guns, I could easily have gone his route.
    But I discovered, much to late, that "injustice collecting" gets you
    nowhere. It doesn't solve your problems, it only COMPOUNDS your
    I am far from a potential "stalker." I rarely go out. My social
    discomfort and oddball appearence can be spotted a mile away.
    There's no way I could ever get close enough to normal appearing
    people-particularly females-to be a threat. I am sufficently clued
    into reality to know that I have no hope at all of appealing to a
    woman on M.E.'s level, or any female, in fact.

    1. looks like some's fishing

    2. Why do you refer to M.E. as "OUR one-in-a-million M.E." with "our" in capitals?

    3. I had inquired about your past before as I was curious about you. Thanks for sharing :)

    4. all this time, i thought you were a female, IDK why... but your male. not that it matters. :)
      who gives a shit if one person calls you a stalker. you seem very knowledgable in your threads even if i don't understand them all.... i do read your postings from time to time. people accuse individuals of all kinds of stuff..... its for their own fallacious empowerment most of the time. just roll it off yr shoulders. you've followed this blog for five years. (most do come and go.) its natural to care for her well-being. plus your religious, and ME is too. tis good, tis sweet, maybe a little weird, but kind-hearted overall. innocent. just don't murder, and all is well. ;-)

  49. is ME the new Sam Vaknin?

  50. I stopped reading this blog post after I read the words "Fox News". I mean really?


    1. is fox news the new comedy central

    2. Another informed member of Amerifat-society.

    3. lol, me too Melissa. i find fox news, blah, blah..
      get those extremist pro-lifers on the march, holy fuck. their assholes. lol

  51. I thought this post was interesting. I sometimes do work in the schools with kids, and recently I worked with a child that I suspect was sociopathic. I’m not quick to assume a child has sociopathy, but she seemed to have many of the characteristics commonly associated with ASPD. I noticed in the classroom there was a desk in the corner, and I wondered why a student was required to sit there. The students were complaining about another student refusing to sit there, and was over at a table with a group of students. The students were saying she has a problem with lying and thievery. I’m not very good with negative reinforcements, and prefer positive reinforcements, and bring a whole bag with me with toys and goodies. I allowed her to sit at the table. Her behavior was really quite interesting. Children are genius at violating social norms, but this particular student took it to a more extreme level that I guess most would think was shocking, or highly inappropriate. She was bright and perceptive, and seemed to be dominant, maintaining control over the group. I gave her some breathing room, but maintained firm boundaries with her. I didn’t want to be overly controlling or strict. I utilized positive reinforcements through out the day, and she responded well to them. At the end of the day, she was picked up by a social worker which I felt only added to my suspicions. The times that I have seen her since, she has been very excited, and it always made me wonder if she is a sociopathic child, and if utilizing positive reinforcements over time, what the long term effect might be.

    1. best thing for that kid ofc is for the teacher to sleep with here

  52. I think that if the child was picked up by a social worker there is a HUGE story behind that child that you are not aware of.


  53. In your blog I was happy to see your article, better than last time, and have made great progress, I am very pleased. I am looking forward to your article will become better and better.
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