Monday, April 13, 2015

Meeting a sociopathic son halfway

From a reader:

I'm sure this is something you hear with relative frequency but I am fairly certain that my son is a sociopath. He is nine years old and he seems to have come upon a time in his life where he is beginning to sense that there is something different about him.

There has been something "off" about him for his entire life, from his epic tantrums to his insensitivity to cues like tone of voice and body language. He would go into episodes where his eyes went dead, for lack of a better word, and he would be absolutely uncontrollable. These same episodes now result in a child who just doesn't care what anyone is saying to him. He simply stands with that blank stare and absorbs nothing. What we were dealing with really hit me when I talked to him about his continued physical violence toward his younger brother. I was trying to get him to empathize with his brother and understand how he felt and my son simply could not do it. He was trying but when I asked about how he thought his brother felt, the only emotions he could manage to think of were "angry" or "happy". He also seemed completely unable to really understand the feelings of his brother, relying on physical cues from his brother rather than any real connection.

My concern is that he has been reacting violently to the tension he seems to be dealing with as a result of his peers advancing emotionally while he does not. He has been fighting with other students, arguing with teachers, stealing, lying, and manipulating. He's chokes his brother, physically fought with teachers and adults, delighted in feeding live lizards to the dog, convinced his teacher he was depressed, and threatened suicide to illicit a reaction. He's been suspended, put in detention, talked to by the school resource officer, had his grades drop, and any number of other consequences. He simply doesn't care and seems to not learn from experience. We've enacted an allowance method that gives direct correlation between his behavior and monetary reward. This seems to be effective, making good behavior more profitable than poor behavior but I don't know how effective it will be at curbing behavior when a strong impulse hits.

I am trying to understand how to help direct him toward a higher level of functionality. I know that he can't really be "cured" nor does he need to be. I just don't know how to help him understand why it is important to behave in accordance to society's rules. I have had conversations with him about it but the value of obeying rules is hard to impart to someone who genuinely doesn't care about the consequences and lacks the control to reign in his impulses. I'm scared that he will end up in jail or that he will really hurt someone someday if I can't direct him to a more productive path.

I suppose my question, after a bit of rambling, is this: Is there anything someone could have done at a young age to help you to understand the value of "the mask"? I hate that he has to put one on but there is no way for him to succeed in life without it. Is there any way someone could have helped you to develop the ability to live more easily in society? I know you did so on your own but might there have been a way for someone to help you to discover it earlier and save yourself some grief? I don't want to label him or make him something he's not. After all, there is a reason that sociopathy cannot be diagnosed until later in life but I want to help him because he is certainly on that path and I think waiting until he is an adult to address the likely cause of his difficulty would be a mistake.

51 comments:

  1. We don´t buy everything.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The "rewards" system is probably the best way to go.
    In the book, "Why We Love Serial Killers," Dr. Scott Bonn says that the
    BTK killer cooperates in return for increased privildges.
    Show him that responsible behavior nets rewards.

    ReplyDelete
  3. How I Get My Husband Back With The Help Of Dr Brave

    Hello everyone, My name is Mary-Owen, a citizen of USA; am 42 years of age..we got married for more than 11 years and have gotten two kids. thing were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way he treat me and the kids. later that month he did not come home again and he called me that he want a divorce, i asked him what have i done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying is that he want a divorce that he hate me and do not want to see me again in his life, i was mad and also frustrated do not know what to do,i was sick for more than 2 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted Dr Brave for the return of my husband to me, they told me that my husband have been taken by another woman, that she cast a spell on him that is why he hate me and also want us to divorce. then they told me that they have to cast a spell on him that will make him return to me and the kids, they casted the spell and after 1 week my husband called me and he told me that i should forgive him, he started to apologize on phone and said that he still live me that he did not know what happen to him that he left me. it was the spell that he Dr Brave casted on him that make him come back to me today,me and my family are now happy again today. thank you Dr Brave for what you have done for me i would have been nothing today if not for your great spell. i want you my friends who are passing through all this kind of love problem of getting back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact Dr Brave ,if you need his help you can contact him through his private mail: bravespellcaster@gmail.com or you can contact him through his website http://enchantedscents.tripod.com/lovespell/ and you will see that your problem will be solved without any delay.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. (I deleted my first message as there was a typo in it.)

    As a hypothetical case, I would say language will play a large part. The Rewards system has been shown to work best with psychopaths, I agree. But that's because it's a positive cause and effect system and easily depicted. Depicting negative outcomes is somewhat harder (unless you are prepared to do some pretty drastic things).

    To illustrate:
    When I was around five or six, I was fascinated by my parents' electric fire: the heating element was comprised of lots of little metal springs that would glow red, then orange, then finally yellow. My parents would tell me "Don't touch the fire, you'll get burned." While I could tell from their faces and tone of voice that to get burned was a bad thing, something negative, I had no frame of reference for the word "burn". (I've just googled it and, although I found a definition for clinical burns, there was nothing that told me how it would feel to get burned, so no wonder my parents had trouble.) Eventually I took advantage of my parents being distracted to stick my fingers between the guard bars and touch one of the glowing springs. It hurt, I yelled and cried. My parents tended to the burn and said "We told you it would burn." They couldn't understand why, when they had told me this, I would still do it.

    The point being, as a neuro-typical adult it's very easy to assume meanings of certain words are universally understood, when in fact they have to be learned. They have to have context in order to acquire meaning. Burn is just a word until you touch something that burns you. Needless to say, a couple of years later when I was tall enough to reach the heating element on the stove, my parents once again told me not to touch it because I would get burned. Since I could remember the fire incident I understood the word "burn" this time, and didn't touch it. Well, not on purpose (I'm a bit clumsy).

    The problem with a nine-year-old is that, in order to give the word "jail" some real meaning to him, you would have to sling him in the solitary cell of some maximum security prison for a week or two (which would probably be sufficient to give him an idea of 'life' or '25 to life'). And of course, even if you could get the warden to agree to do it in the first place, then you would have Social Services after you. Plus, you never know, he might actually enjoy the peace and quiet [SD sits back and waits for the howls of indignation ;)]. Showing him "jail" on TV or in films won't work because it is occurring outside himself and only lasts a couple of hours at most.

    Telling the child that nobody will like him if he keeps being violent isn't likely to work either because, according to the original post, the child is already experiencing ostracization from his peers due to being different. If the teasing stops when he wallops somebody, or chokes them, in his mind that's a positive outcome - cause and effect. Telling him it isn't a positive outcome will seem like nonsense (or even lies) to him. If he's going to be disliked anyway, he might as well be feared too and have some 'fun'. [More howls: "Send for the Witch-smeller Pursuivant!" This Devil's Advocate has escaped its cage and is running amok.]

    I am minded to ask if anyone would be talking to the other children about Tribalism and explaining that being different is not the same as being wrong. Probably not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate the input. The very nature of semantics is something I had not considered. There is a tendency to assume the innate comprehension of certain terminology but that is largely based on a somewhat emotional worldview... A certain, "If mom said this with that much fervor, there must be a good reason for it" kind of understanding that would naturally be lacking in someone without that natural comprehension. I have discovered that explicit rules are necessary. "Be good" is simply not enough. It makes sense that admonishments that "being bad" will result in "jail" or make kids "not like you" would similarly lack the necessary specificity and would therefore lack power.

      Also, the fact that a temporary reprieve is a reward in itself is something I hadn't mulled sufficiently... Especially the thought that there is a consequence anyway so you might as well amuse yourself in the meantime. I think that a Scared Straight type situation would be completely ineffective. I can't quite grasp doing that to a young child anyway but, with him, I can't see it having any effect other than increasing his resentment of the person who made him go there and distrust for law enforcement in general. He actually had a scare a while ago when a child got hit in the head with a rock. My son was blamed and the parent threatened to call the police and send him to jail. He called me with a slightly shaky voice, the closest I've ever heard to fear, but he just kept repeating that he hadn't done anything. It was like the potential injustice of being punished for something he hadn't done outweighed the fear of the consequence itself. I talked the mother down and sent her on her way and all was well. (And, yes, I think that he was likely falsely accused on this one. Though he will lie about little things profusely, he generally acquiesces easily when confronted or caught.) I thought this scare might be enough to make the situation real... We talked about the fact that when you are known for such things, you become an easy scapegoat, etc. He avoided having issues with other kids for... one day... So I doubt that any kind of scare tactic is likely to be effective at all.

      It does bother me that there seems to be little incentive to other children to accept those who are different but children are tiny savages anyway. I thought about pulling him out of public school but he will need to learn to adapt to others at some point. It will be much easier if it happens early on. Right now, his teacher and fellow students are amused at his tales of homelessness one day and owning a jet the next. As he gets older, this tendency will become less amusing and quirky to those around him so we need to work it out now.

      Delete
    2. I'm impressed with your understanding and acceptance of who sociopaths are. I think you've realized that we aren't all evil and immoral (more amoral). Here are my suggestions:

      1. Always approach him with pure logic. Some of his lies and manipulative behavior is him testing his ability by amusing himself. The other aspect is sociopaths do want people to like us. It's not the same as empaths, but narcissism is how we "feel". Sociopaths are not pure narcissisists but we also fall on that spectrum. He can overcome being too narcissistic, but not being sociopathic. I would explain that others will respect and like him, more, by being a little more cooperative. But also stress that seeking to always gain admiration or fear from others opens him up to weakness. I value other people but I not value them as people. I am able to show "love" to others because I consider them an extension of myself. I'm 26 and high functioning. Sure I've been through lots of jobs and manipulated plenty of people. However, very few people dislike me. I mostly tell the truth, compliments and advice, and do things for other people. I do this because life is easier when people like you and I find some pleasure in others liking me. The utiliarian aspect far outweighs the hedontic. But the latter is how I connect with others and survive in society.

      2. Instill a fear of jail. I view life as a game and there are so many ways to win without committing a felony. Impulses can be controlled if there is a reason to do so.

      3. My philosophy is stoicism. He already may not have many emotions but anger is always our strongest. I recently got fired from a contract job and my response was "fuck them" and I moved on. There is nothing to gain by enacting any revenge.

      4. Adding on to the last sentence, it is important to use narcissism as a tool but not let it control me. Low functioning, manipulative, violent sociopaths are also narcissists. Even though I'm completely selfish, I do not view myself as a special snowflake. I do not need to be feared Or considered important. In the same way M.E 'grew up' manipulating and destroying others, without purpose, is not practical. You could logically tell him that choking his brother or lying all the time has no practical value. These things have a purpose, within the right context. Ask him this paradox of why he seeks attention if he doesn't have emotions. His 9 year old self might be able to understand it, if you've already had talks.

      5. Give him some psychology books to read. Although I didn't realize it at first, my studying of psychology allowed me to develop cognitive empathy. Although not emotional "real" empathy, I understand how people think. In fact, my manipulation decreased as I learned about narcissism. I can both easily read people and get along well as I'm both skilled at reading people and I don't care to stand out.

      5. Amphetamine prescription. ADHD is common with sociopaths. I personality view the former as a symptom of the latter and not a real condition. But my adderall prescription controls many of my impulses.

      6. Finally, learn to love him less. You can appreciate him, but people come and go, and it wasn't that long ago that the death rate was nearly half fo children. My mother is very much an empath and I love her a much as I can. It isn't much and I couldn't really call it love, but it's better than nothing I guess. She's like an extension of myself for narc supply? Whatever, just accept he might be a fuck up and ruin you emotionally.

      Delete
    3. I should probably add that the finger-in-the-fire incident coincided with the time at which "Because I said so" stopped being a good enough reason for me to do or not do something. In my head, if someone couldn't give me a good reason to do or not do something it meant that there wasn't a good reason - it was just their preference.

      Looking back, I think what might have stopped me testing the fire for myself would only have been seeing someone getting burned and then the results (not "Before" and "After" pictures - that wouldn't have been enough). Whether or not anyone, let alone my parents, would have been prepared to show a video like that to a five-year-old is doubtful. But it would have shown me direct cause and effect.

      I should add, as you might be new to the site and not have seen previous threads, I am not a sociopath. As a young adult I might have tested highly empathic - because I thought slightly differently to the mainstream I was always trying to understand why (as in why other people didn't see the world the way I saw it). I didn't get teased about it much as a younger child because I had a violent temper; this bought me enough time in early adolescence to learn how to fight with words. But I was aware of the difference and I was aware that I was expected to be like everyone else. I can imagine that a child with a much more marked difference and low natural empathy would feel incredibly frustrated by the 'rules' that are never fully explained.

      You seem to be trying very hard to explain them to him. Cognitive empathy, as NM points out, will probably work best. And, as NM and others also point out, teaching him how not to care about insults.

      You could use the incident of the child hit with a rock as an example: "Because you do these (choking, hitting, feeding live lizards to dogs) things, people thought you must have done this thing. If you don't do these things, people will be less likely to think you did something you haven't done."

      I stopped losing my temper because I made a conscious decision not to get angry. I found a 'safe' method of venting my frustrations so that they never build up to explosion point again. Martial Arts helped (the mental discipline aspect as well as the physical control), but learning that an opinion is only an opinion helped more. An opinion I don't value simply doesn't bother me. I'm the one who knows me. Other people can, and frequently do, get it wrong. That doesn't make me wrong. I'm only wrong when I'm wrong ;)

      I hope some of that was helpful.

      Delete
    4. NB I didn't mean that putting him in jail would work to scare him straight in and of itself - just that it would give him a very clear and personal idea of what jail actually is. A direct frame of reference. So that if you said "If you kill someone you will go to jail", he would understand what "go to jail" really means. I realize it's not practicable and sounds harsh.

      Delete
    5. Sorry for the multiple posts :D
      It bothers me a lot that not only children but adults equate different with wrong. I try very hard to be fair as a consequence. It isn't viewed as being very productive by society - which I find amusing. But it enables me to live with myself. The rest of the world is only applicable 10-18 hours a day; I have to live with myself 24/7.

      Delete
    6. Well said SND - I'm not sure about the amphetamines (not helpful in my case) and I'm not sure any parent can learn to "love their children any less" - but, I do think we can learn to accept the child we have, and it sounds like the OP is well along the way on that path.

      My son has many of my traits - I see them emerging at 5YO (and it's not just my inner narc saying he's a "chip off the old block"). I try to point out to him the results of his choices and how some behaviors will have long term effects - mostly I use "object lessons."

      Here's an example: he really wanted to play with a computer like dad. A family member had a very old but functional machine destined for recycle(an old XP machine that wasn't being supported). We let him play with that - slowly at first to build up the specialness of it - each time explaining that if he breaks it, he won't have a computer to play with - over time he was able to "earn it as his". Of course, he broke it and there were tears and tantrums, but we pointed out how his choices were to blame and he eventually understood. I bought him a laptop for his birthday (several months after the demise of the old one) and it's still running well (or at least I'm getting good at reloading the system...).

      It's not a one off - I've been doing this with toys for some time for the same reason.

      The key was to get him to see his own connection to the object of his desire and to use that as a lever/fulcrum to get him to understand that it's not just his world that we live in.

      I make a similar point when he's playing with kids - treat them badly and they won't want to play with you.

      Am I teaching manipulation? Yeah, maybe - but it's not like I can put him touch with feeling that don't exist. The best I can do is to help him to see and understand the results of his actions and hope it sticks.

      Good luck OP!

      Delete
    7. "Telling the child that nobody will like him if he keeps being violent isn't likely to work either because, according to the original post, the child is already experiencing ostracization from his peers due to being different."

      I think it was instruction like this from my parents that caused me to form a mask. You can't force us to feel a certain way, but you can effectively demonstrate the value of hiding and manipulating others. "People won't like you if..." ever just instructed me to be more cautious about hiding.

      Delete
    8. I think it's also important to add that the desire to be liked by other people is just logical - as sociopaths, if we couldn't get people to like us, we'd never be able to play our game of 3D chess against the world. In addition, I'd also call it self-preservation because if everybody starts labeling you a "freak", any slip-ups you may have won't be attributed to various eccentricities: they'll be attributed to something that empaths perceive as "wrong".

      Delete
  6. Once you infested...April 13, 2015 at 6:29 AM

    I think this mother is asking very smart questions, and I wish she simply took the time, trusted her own gut instincts, developed a system for training this particular child and shared it with us.

    A child who has no qualm about hurting others can be taught how certain things feel in a controlled environment. I am not qualified to talk about simulating emotional pain for the needs of someone who lacks emotions but physical pain can be communicated to a certain degree (and bear in mind there are studies that show people's sensitivity to physical pain differs significantly).

    Instead of talking about burning to a child one can light a little candle and hold it to a finger of a child while allowing room for instant escape as soon as the child feels the pain. So, there, you taugt how it feels. Now the question is did you do a favor in the direction of protecting others or just the opposite? Will the child protect others from burning or make sure they have no room to run away from the burn?

    My point is teaching to mask to a sociopathic child is not necessarily the best way to go. Teaching the child to learn a capability that is rewarded by the society may be the only way to keep the problem child in social acceptance and supplied with enough narcissistic supply to control his deamons. This would only delay the shit that's bound to come out of a person like that, and we'd hope that the person dies from some expected causes or kills himself/herself before hurting others.

    This mother may have seen one of her parents, or in-laws, or husband behave in very similar ways to her child before getting parent. Maybe she should've avoided getting pregnant in the first place and stop the infestation that way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your pathetically transparent attempt to shock and dismay me has fallen short.

      The one kernel of input in the post has already been integrated. I have worked at teaching him that there are a variety of positive attributes associated with his personality. I have also looked into finding some role models who have found ways to integrate such attributes in a socially acceptable way and therefore, enjoy great success within the confines of the law.

      Delete
    2. This would only delay the shit that's bound to come out of a person like that, and we'd hope that the person dies from some expected causes or kills himself/herself before hurting others.

      Maybe she should've avoided getting pregnant in the first place and stop the infestation that way."

      And maybe *you* should refrain from making stupid, unhelpful comments when you clearly lack the knowledge, qualifications, intelligence or understanding to respond meaningfully- or do anything other than make yourself look like an asinine, incoherent idiot.

      On that note, perhaps *you* should refrain from procreating, in order to avoid infesting the collective gene pool with more stupidity. :P

      Delete
    3. "She" is "Me" and at no point did I claim knowledge I do not have...

      However, since your default argument is ad hominem, I shall cease this conversation since it clearly leads nowhere.

      Delete
    4. Wow. Defensive, much? I was talking to "Once you infested", genius. I even quoted the passage I responded to. If your parenting skills match your reading comprehension, it is no wonder your child is so troubled. XD

      Delete
    5. Haha, A I thought the antecedent was apparent as well. Internet miscommunication wins again.

      Delete
    6. Once you infestedApril 14, 2015 at 7:54 PM

      A,

      Your reaction to this mother is hilarious, especially after your reaction to me.

      Genes are genes...

      Delete
    7. I'm pretty sure my eldest daughter has sociopathic tendencies, and that my youngest son has some as well (two in middle are not). There's definitely a genetic component.

      This has been a long road with missteps on my part as I have tried to figure out the best way to get through to my kids.

      A few observations: the ADHD comment made by socio next door rings very true. Interestingly, I am treated with adderall and it has evened me out a lot emotionally. However, we haven't gone that route (yet) with kids but we might with my son- not so much to help with schoolwork but because my hope is that it will help with mood swings- it has had a profoundly calming effect on my personality. That said, I am wary of medicating kids after my daughter was given Zoloft and it made her psychotic (as in physically violent and trying to jump out a third floor window).

      Your lack of moralizing is good. The callous/unempathetic traits in children that can grow into psychopathy are neither good or bad. The environment you provide will have much to do with how those traits manifest in your son's adult personality.

      What has worked well for me is providing my older daughter with as much control as possible over her life. Power struggles with kids wired like this end poorly. Enable independence in self care from an early age and teach your child that you are a resource, not a dictator. When you must discipline, make the punishment logical/ an outgrowth of natural consequences of an action.

      My biggest mistake has been trying to use guilt as leverage (doesn't work, just enrages). Now I just state directly- "when you do x, it makes me angry and because I am angry I don't feel like doing y for you." Put in those terms, there's no moralizing, just a decision to make: if I want y, I need to stop x. Of course, sometimes your child won't want y, so they keep doing x. Your job is to provide a new and better y.

      In the end, you are simply trying to encourage a prosocial outlook. The more you can create positive feedback loops of x's and y's, the more you impart an understanding that cooperation is an acceptable/desirable social strategy in most situations.

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. I greatly enjoy those books (and the show, to a lesser extent) but there is a classic chicken and egg question inherent in them. Though he showed potential psychopathic characteristics as a child, would he have been a serial killer had his father not guided him there as some kind of twisted Batman? Perhaps it was the instruction of his father that convinced him that he was a killer and had no other choice but to embrace it and simply direct it to people who "deserved it". (Not that I'm commenting on the child in question but just a general observation regarding the character.)

      Delete
    2. Elphaba

      There are basic problems involving ethics and experimenting on human beings. For example, I have no doubt that "god" is totally illusory. I suspect that something in the human nervous system of most people (though not mine, apparently) that needs to believe in such an imaginary creature as the supposed “god.” One could raise a large group of children (perhaps equivalent to the population of Finland) in a carefully structured environment where they only encounter empirical science with no speculation about imaginary beings such as “god,” and no myths about superhumans who are born of virgins and rise from the dead. If you raise a generation of children who never encounter the idea of “god” would they invent a god of their own? Perhaps as soon as they realize they are mortal? Both the resources and ethics needed to do such an experiment are massive and troubling.

      By the same token, if anybody is still reading, we could identify a few hundred empathyless “Dexter” like children. We could raise them in a completely fake environment (again we are talking a “set” about the size of Finland, where most of the population are “actors.” We could observe and track them carefully to see if they show signs of becoming killers. A carefully chosen few would be selected for “Dexter” like scenarios (where no one actually gets killed. Of course, Murphy's law would cause a few embarrassing failures where people really die. Remember the “Truman Show?”

      Any contemporary Hitlers and/or Stalins with the resources and ethical deficiencies to run such experiments?

      Delete
  8. M.E. check your email and post mine to give your readers some fresh content with a story that has never been told. No one here cares to save a child from himself. If he is intelligent he will use his personality traits in order to succeed professionally and will feed the beast that way. Otherwise, he'll end up like the idiots in prison.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well, well, well. Now that sounds like little me. If your son is anything like me, you haven't even been through the worst stuff.

    Just recently, not even a month ago, my little brother told me, very indirectly, in a submissive manner I've rarely seen on him (he's a narcissist through and through), that he has been through a lot, mainly because of me. Frankly, I didn't even know what he was talking about - so I tried to remember what could have been so terrible to make him afraid of me like this. I had a hard time to understand it, even though I'm twenty now. I tried to remember what generally happened in random interactions and, because it still wasn't obvious to me, analyzed each situation thoroughly. What did I do, would that cause pain to me, what are the typical age-specific reactions and how did they differ from what I had witnessed, what expression was on his face and what emotions are commonly associated with such expressions, what did the rest of his body language tell me (muscle-tension, movement intentions, gestures, fluidity of movement, etc.) and so on and so forth. A hell lot of work. Nice to kill boredom.

    I still don't understand at a "basic" level why he would be afraid of me, or why he didn't really fight back, but I understand cognitively that his reactions, under the given circumstances, are normal. He wasn't able to fight back because I used to get back at him with an even more aggressive attitude whenever he tried to fight back. He never even tried to fight back before he was about 9 (me 12) and has given up at about 13 (me 16). As far as I could recall situations, I must have gotten gradually more aggressive, however changed from pure physical violence to mostly mental/emotional violence around age 14 or 15. However, I can't "connect", as you put it. I'm not even sure what that means. (Pointless to tell me, if I can't relate I can assure you I'll have forgotten it by tomorrow.)

    My advice, ignore the elements of affective empathy and concentrate on cognitive empathy. Try to teach your son some kind of a checklist he can go through to better understand why his peers behave a certain way.

    And, please, build up his self-esteem. You know what I've been through? I thought I must be retarded or something 'cause everyone seems to learn so quickly how to behave and what expression to show at any time all the while I didn't get it. Make sure your son knows that his peers' neurobiology is different from his and that they know instinctively (but don't think about it) how to act what he will have to learn actively, but that they will have a hard time gaining the same understanding he'll acquire in no time about human behavior - if he really starts to worry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. [...continued...]

      Everyone tried to explain to me that I'm no different to all others until I believed it, which lead to a quite misanthropic worldview in me. My advice, just accept he's different and tell him it's okay, it's right the way it is.

      And 'cause we're on this topic, tell him what's considered right and wrong in great detail, over and over again - don't give up, it'll pay in some years - try to think you're explaining sounds to someone who's deaf by birth. They need plenty of repetitions until it sticks.

      And 'cause SansDire pointed it out, words are indeed a strange thing. I had difficulties understanding the meaning of a great number of words and no-one I sked knew how to explain them to me in a fashion I understood. I developed a habit of asking countless people about the meaning of a word to try to connect the contextes so I might understand what they were talking about. The word "burn" was easy, that's something I could experience, even though I'm a bit impaired on feeling heat as something painful. Try to explain jealousy. Or love. When it comes to words, definition is everything. I learned a lot by reading books. I have written a blog article on my own blog about the topic some while back.

      Well, that's it for now. I'm done... and really need some sleep now.

      OP, if you have questions feel free to ask anytime, you can e-mail me too. Address is somewhere on my profile.

      Delete
  10. There is a philosophy... that says that we are the problem. not the people in our lives. the people in our lives are suffering because of us.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I was a bad kid, but not that bad... Not at 9 years old. My behavior took a real turn for the worse only when I was about 14 years old. His age is of concern, and makes me wonder exactly what kind if trauma this kid was exposed to when he was very young.

    Normally there are genetic and environmental factors influencing psychopathy. Usually one parent is on the spectrum. OP, do you or your child's father have a lot of sociopathic traits?

    How was your child abused or traumatized? (I ask "how" and not "if", because a child who acts out to the extent that you describe is very likely to have been through intensely traumatic experiences.)

    You say he "doesn't need to be cured", but a kid who is acting out so violently at such a young age is screaming inside. Hecertainly requires behavior modification. You must not reward him with compliance. You must not allow him to dictate the behaviors of family members. You must find something he cares about and revoke it when he hurts others. Do not be dissuaded by the fact that punishment seems ineffective. Persist anyway. Set firm boundaries that you enforce in a dispassionate way, and always reward good behavior.. *Especially* demonstrations of cognitive empathy, no matter how shallow. (Forget trying to provoke affective empathy. You will only confuse him) Show him lots of affection. Remove him from environments in which he is surrounded by kids or adults who bully or reject him. This will harden him more rapidly and effectively than anything else. I suspect this might already be a root of the problem you are experiencing wherein he is concerned. Pull him out of school and find a more suitable place, if necessary.

    Your child has learned that he can exert control via tyrannizing others. This is what you must address.

    On the positive side, one thing that was very helpful for me was to channel some of my thrill-seeking and aggression in exciting activities. I was a competitive diver. It helped me stay out of trouble.

    Have you considered enrolling your son in a martial art? This may help teach him self-control, and provide a constructive means through which to sublimate his aggressive impulses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have actually looked into a local martial arts class for that purpose.

      I don't have any knowledge of any abuse in his life. His biological father was sociopathic, I now realize. I do have a number of psychopathic traits myself, though I am unsure if I would be classified as psychopathic, necessarily. I thought of that as well, though. I know that his father was quite distant and may have been neglectful when he was supposed to be watching my son while I was at work. He also stayed with his father for a few months after we split. Though this man was never physically or verbally abusive, he was very self-absorbed so I could see how he may have ignored my son in favor of something like video games. Also, an unfortunate byproduct of our society is a large amount of time spent in the care of others (babysitter, daycare, etc). I have asked on multiple occasions and he denies that anything has happened but that doesn't mean he either doesn't remember or chooses to hide whatever it may have been. The behavioral problems really began when we came to our current town a few years ago. It may be that his father set the stage when he was younger and a bully or bullies hardened him into what we're seeing now. Maybe I was looking for something too big... Something traumatic... and it was really a series of smaller things that resulted in the change we saw from quirky to aggressive.

      I will definitely work with him on cognitive empathy. I've come to realize that this ability is what has helped me greatly over the years and I will make sure to reward it as I see it.

      I appreciate the input and insight.

      Delete
    2. A, as a sociopath, I find it very hard to believe that you are one.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous, as a human being, I find it passing strange that a big, bad sociopathic monster like yourself would hide under an anonymouse cover, like a shrinking coward.

      Who cares what you think? Surely not I.
      :)

      Delete
    4. I've said it before: traits do not a disordered person make.

      Delete
  12. Wow. Just thinking about the punishments I would have received as a child for that sort of behavior makes me cringe as ALL checks were cashed when I was growing up. Luckily I didn't have the memory span of a guppy and learned to be more covert with my childhood shenanigans. I'm not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing in the end.

    But I know child rearing and discipline are handled differently these days and this parent is doing the best she can. Hopefully she'll be able to appeal to his own sense of self preservation to convince him not to act like a wild animal.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This sounds like quite the challenge. what are the grandparents like? how did they turn out?

    positive feedback is the way to go. negative feedback doesn't work. demands will lead to the kid having more contempt for you than he'd have otherwise; I know this from my own experience.

    have you considered paying your kid to do sitting practice? Aka zen practice? that has transformed my mind. psychopath's aren't the sort to he good out of duty. being disciplined because it is a challenge is a different story.

    the best thing my parents could have taught me was impulse control, primarily by showing me that impulses "weren't me" - I couldn't choose to not have them or have them, but I could try to calm down and be less destructive/reactive in their presence.

    i probably would uave been more amenable to learning impulse control if tue authority figures in my life had had a more positive (if cynical) approach. as in, "hey, good news is, if you can just control your impulses, you can probably be quite satisfied, as you won't be wanting the things that most people pine for and never get enough of - eg silly emotional things."

    ReplyDelete
  14. Don't be put off by the sociopath. We all know their insults are meaningless. You are doing a great job with him and I'm sure he will appreciate it. You need to create a safe space for him to enjoy what he enjoys. Build him up and help him develop his own way and his own methods. I'm sure one day there will be a well-raised sociopath girl who will also want to create happiness with him.

    Try to make the benefits for HIM when you explain why. Not for society. Why should he care what society thinks? For instance, "you will have fewer barriers in your way to becoming x when you do y." Feed him positive stories and make the pathway to achieve those stories structured and in manageable bite sizes. He won't like failure and it will affect his self-esteem, so custom make a plan for him. Then back off and make sure he gets the confidence to do it himself.

    Try to see the world through his eyes without judging. He's got his own way that he didn't choose, and those are the tools to work with. His sense of self will improve the more success he has. But make sure the teenage rebellion doesn't get out of control. Try to find safe outlets for his impulses to let him feel free.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ^This is complete bullshit. Utter tripe.

      "Try to see the world through his eyes without judging"

      You fool. A kid like that who is not brought into line may one day cause others to stop seeing the world at all when he goes postal. You have no idea what you are talking about.

      Delete
  15. Nothing can be done. It's pure luck. You're just going to have to decide
    how much you can take.

    ReplyDelete
  16. As previously stated, I am not a sociopath. I am a person who tries very hard to 'walk in the shoes' of other people. I try to understand people, all people.

    This is my hypothesis of how I believe it may be to grow up neuro-atypical in a non-life-threatening situation:

    By my early teens (perhaps earlier), I have recognized that there is something different about me compared to most of the people I meet - particularly those outside my family. I realize that sometimes (perhaps quite often at first) I do or say things that provoke a very negative reaction (beatings, reprimands, even legal problems). Nobody will explain to me properly the 'rules': I have to try and work them out for myself. When they yell at me, they are using words that I find confusing because I don't seem to experience them as real. What I do is bad but it's never clear why. Except the law: the law is clear, but other people break the law. All of this is frustrating. I understand frustration and don't like feeling that way. Sometimes I like to make other people feel that way, because it levels the playing field; sometimes, if they are frustrated but I am not, it feels like I am winning. I like winning. Winning makes me feel good, not bad. More importantly it makes me *feel* and everybody tells me that feeling is good. So winning must be good.
    To win must mean to be a successful human. I want to keep winning. I don't like losing - losing makes me feel powerless. I am different from them: feeling powerful gives me the sense I can protect myself because they make it very clear they don't like the differences in me. I will find out how to keep winning and hide the differences.
    [Years of observation and deduction, ever refining. This works, that doesn't. But on the whole, I am winning and feel powerful.]
    Now I am an adult, the 'rules' change again. Where's the bloody manual on these rules? This thing worked before but now it doesn't. I can't see why it has stopped working. That's frustrating. I feel insecure because I have made a mistake I can't see. [Possible acting out/meltdown.]
    Oh well, start again.
    [Repeat as many times as applicable.]

    Now a few translations:
    Frustration and anger may be interchangeable. I can't separate them in my mind.
    What I (as the child) see as frustration in other people might actually be pain or fear, but I very rarely feel emotional pain and fear, so I mis-translate them as frustration - which I can feel.
    Powerful means being able to manipulate my environment (including other people) - controlling the situation.
    Powerless means being unable to manipulate my environment - not controlling the situation.

    As a child, the idea that being powerful can be bad doesn't make sense to me. It must be good simply because it puts me in control. Being powerful=survival. I'm not sure I have a fully developed sense of time and future. I do understand now (i.e. the present). Once an emotion is past I have difficulty 'placing' it and recreating it.

    OK - any socios who are happy to chime in can now tell me whether this is anywhere close to their experience. Obviously any child growing up in a life-threatening situation will have larger concerns than merely fitting in.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Part 1

    Hello, Mother. Now that I have had he chance to read and absorb your comments, I am going to share some of my observations. I am going to do this by deconstructing your statements and sharing exactly what they tell me about you, and your situation. Furthermore, I am going to be relatively civil about it. Smile. That isn't a privilege I accord to everyone who posts here. :D

    This will be long, so I have divided it into parts. Please *read* my comments, as opposed to merely scanning them and responding impulsively, as you did earlier when you assumed I was blasting you, and not the person who thinks everyone would be better off if your son were to kill himself. :P

    @Socioboy: an addendum to your post... Did you know that psychopaths and individuals with adhd share the commonality of storing information differently in their brains? Maybe I'll post a link to this later.

    --> "Be good" is simply not enough. It makes sense that admonishments that "being bad" will result in "jail" or make kids "not like you" would similarly lack the necessary specificity and would therefore lack power."

    You are a very intelligent, rational person, but you are not particularly empathetic. I asked you earlier if you or the child's father had any psychopathic traits. You said you did, and I believe it- for several reasons, many of which I will develop in my responses to you. One I have already touched upon concerns your inattention, juxtaposed with your impulsive, defensive reactivity. I do this frequently.

    Bear in mind that most psychologists believe that psychopathy consists of a cluster of co-extant, specific traits on a spectrum. It is only when these traits are unchecked, rampant and cause self-destruction and harm to others that they may appropriately be deemed pathological. You can have a sociopathic personality type without necessarily being "disordered".

    The fact that you are musing about the impact of generalized statements lacking in specifity on your nine-year old son shows me that you are not relating to him in a developmentally appropriate manner, and that you cannot identify with his inner emotional landscape. I know exactly what this looks like, because I do this, too.

    Explicit rules are necessary, but this is because your young sociopath needs to understand *why* he shouldn't behave in certain ways. He will want to explore the outcomes of various paths. Telling him to not put his hand on the stove may not thwart him. Unfortunately, most sociopaths need to experience getting burned- often more than once. :p

    --> "Also, the fact that a temporary reprieve is a reward in itself is something I hadn't mulled sufficiently... Especially the thought that there is a consequence anyway so you might as well amuse yourself in the meantime. I think that a Scared Straight type situation would be completely ineffective. I can't quite grasp doing that to a young child anyway but, with him, I can't see it having any effect other than increasing his resentment of the person who made him go there and distrust for law enforcement in general."

    You must earn your child's *respect* in order to elicit his obedience. If he does not respect you, he will attempt to dominate you. And even if he does respect you, he will test you. He should fear you, but only insofar as you enforce reasonable consequences with consistency and fairness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Part 2

      --> "He actually had a scare a while ago when a child got hit in the head with a rock. My son was blamed and the parent threatened to call the police and send him to jail. He called me with a slightly shaky voice, the closest I've ever heard to fear, but he just kept repeating that he hadn't done anything."

      Perhaps he had. Maybe that is why you heard fear in his voice. On the one hand, you said:

      --> "It was like the potential injustice of being punished for something he hadn't done outweighed the fear of the consequence itself."

      Just as a young sociopath will respond with inappropriate agression and frustration when his will is thwarted, the vigor with which he will defend himself when he feels unjustly persecuted will not be constrained by the fear of punishment, because the intensity of his outrage will obliterate any semblance of self-control. I remember this well from various childhood scenarios. This is why fairness and dispassionate consistency are SO important in parenting the young sociopath.

      --> "I talked the mother down and sent her on her way and all was well."

      You are manipulative and callous, both sociopathic traits.

      --> "(And, yes, I think that he was likely falsely accused on this one. Though he will lie about little things profusely, he generally acquiesces easily when confronted or caught.)"

      You said "though he lies about *little things* profusely, he generally acquiesces easily when confronted or caught. The police were brought into the conversation. Shit got real. I am not convinced he is guiltless- but I need more information to make an informed deduction.

      --> "I thought this scare might be enough to make the situation real... We talked about the fact that when you are known for such things, you become an easy scapegoat, etc. He avoided having issues with other kids for... one day... So I doubt that any kind of scare tactic is likely to be effective at all."

      This doesn't surprise me. It won't stick. It never does. Sociopaths make the same mistakes, over and over again. You have to anticipate repeat offenses. That's just the way it is. The important thing is not to allow rationalizations convince you to cease taking responsibility for parenting your child effectively- something you will be tempted to do because of your own sociopathic tendencies, because parenting a kid like this would be an *exhausting* ordeal for even the most patient, empathetic parent.

      Delete
    2. --> "It does bother me that there seems to be little incentive to other children to accept those who are different but children are tiny savages anyway"

      Your son isn't merely "different". He is a budding sadist, and while I almost never say this about children- almost certainly a sociopath. Sadism and sociopathy make for a potentially dangerous combination if the lack of impulse control is particularly egregious. You need to stop indirectly enabling him through your rationalizations, immediately, and *give him the tools he needs to cope with his aggression and frustration in appropriate ways.*

      To wit- why was your son permitted to "enjoy feeding lizards to the dog"? It begs the question, because this is not "normal" behavior. Not that it is particularly immoral... But it is a red flag, and red flags are signals to which you must pay attention. The gratuitous killing of creatures should not be permitted in a budding sadist. His reveling in it should have caused you to forbid him from doing it.

      When the senseless cruelty is appropriately reprimanded, show him acceptable, *constructive* ways in which to manifest his proclivities. Reward obedience with incentives. For instance, teach him how to hunt- but never allow him to be unsupervised with any kind of weapon. He is not trustworthy. Who cares if he's getting an illicit thrill out of killing and gutting a deer when it will feed the family delicious, tender venison for months? :)

      --> "I thought about pulling him out of public school but he will need to learn to adapt to others at some point. It will be much easier if it happens early on."

      This is a rationalization. Here is how it reads:

      "All kids are assholes. The ones who interact with my son certainly fit this description. He needs to learn to deal anyway, so it's ok. I can get back to the business of attending to my own needs."

      Don't excuse laziness, apathy and selfishness with a rationalization designed to alleviate your responsibility to ensure that you are providing the very best possible environment for your son, right now.

      --> "Right now, his teacher and fellow students are amused at his tales of homelessness one day and owning a jet the next. As he gets older, this tendency will become less amusing and quirky to those around him so we need to work it out now."

      You are correct in stating that you must address this. You should have already taught him to stop, and followed through to assure compliance. You do not appear to have a conventional moral compass- another typically sociopathic trait. Check, check, check. The checks are adding up.

      My faith provides me with a prosthetic moral compass. It is upon this objectively subjective basis that I raise my children. I am not fit for the task, unguided. I contend that nobody is.

      --> "Also, an unfortunate byproduct of our society is a large amount of time spent in the care of others (babysitter, daycare, etc). "

      Wrong. An unfortunate byproduct of the CHOICES *you* made is a large large amount of time spent in the care of others. I can't say I blame you. Your son sounds like a little pest. That is why he needs your consistent discipline, persistent attention, and patient love more than anyone else. Be honest. How often have you lost your shit on him? I *know* I would have reacted with disproportionate harshness on occasion. Because of the clues I am picking up regarding your own, somewhat callous nature, I suspect you have, as well.

      Delete
    3. --> I have asked on multiple occasions and he denies that anything has happened but that doesn't mean he either doesn't remember or chooses to hide whatever it may have been.

      Wtf is this?! "Doesn't remember", my ass. You suspect something, but the most you have been willing to do thus far on your son's behalf is to grill his father on a few occasions. You selfish bitch. That's fucking weak. He's your SON. Be a stronger advocate for him. Take charge and make the REAL changes in his discipline and environment that are needed to address the severity of the situation.

      -->"The behavioral problems really began when we came to our current town a few years ago. It may be that his father set the stage when he was younger and a bully or bullies hardened him into what we're seeing now. Maybe I was looking for something too big... Something traumatic... and it was really a series of smaller things that resulted in the change we saw from quirky to aggressive. I don't have any knowledge of any abuse in his life."

      While this is entirely possible, the fact that you don't KNOW for certain whether your son was abused or bullied shows me that you have not been sufficiently engaged as a mother. Stop making excuses for your detachment, selfishness and apathy.

      No child is a rock. Kids are hardened because a certain genotype that is predisposed to callousness interacts with an environment that reinforces it. Studies are increasingly showing that children who grow into psychopaths are in fact hypersensitive. Sociopathy is, in part, a complex defense mechanism through which a child learns to seal himself off from trauma. You have to find a way to identify, engage, and help him to reconnect with his innate sensitivity. You are a manipulative person. Instead of applying it to your rationalizations, why not put this trait to work in doing just that? You may want to find a good therapist who is committed to working with you and your son to help you.

      --> "Again, I appreciate the input and insight."

      If you have continued reading to this point without getting defensive over some of the uncomfortable points I have made, you are most welcome.

      The pleasure was all mine.

      Delete
    4. Brilliant deconstruction, A. Harsh and wise.

      Delete
    5. Thank-you, Faust. I appreciate the feedback.

      Delete
  18. From what u r describing in your post your child may be lower spectrum autism or Asperger, except in your mind u have diagnosed him as a sociopath and he may be unconsciously picking up on your projections the way children do as they get their functioning scripts from parental figures.
    It would be advisable to get him diagnosed by a professional - child sociopathy can be diagnosed. The neurological tests for autism spectrum can be expensive but well worth it and u may be able to catch a break on the cost.
    Sociopathic children r usually the ones doing the bullying and ostracizing not on the receiving end.
    A proper diagnosis could save your child a lifetime of problems springing from a label that does not fit him in the first place.
    Facing your own issues about sociopathy is going to help the both of u.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Lady - your brand of crazy makes me want to eat live lizards. Your son has a lot to deal with being exposed to you on a non stop basis.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi everyone, I do hope my post gets read and hopefully helps somebody along the line.i will never forget the help Dr Brave render to me in my marital life., My name is Mary Owen from London , UK, a 34 year women, you cannot believe what this spell caster Dr Brave just did for me!!! Was this all a magic?? "This is totally a Easter miracle for me lol" My mouth are short of words. “I got a divorce from my husband when I was six months pregnant with my second child. We had only been married for a short time and had another child who was 1 year old. We had been arguing and quarreling nonstop since the day our first child was conceived, no love nor trust from him anymore so he divorced. And all these whiles, I have been trying all different means to get him back, I also tried some different spell casters from other countries, but none of them could bring Richard back to me. It was only Dr Brave who guaranteed me an urgent 48 hours spell casting, and he assure me that my husband will be with me before Easter day. I am writing to offer my thanks and deep gratitude to you for keeping your promises, and for using your gifted and great powers to bring him back today 2nd of April 2015.. I was thrilled to know that you are specialized in reuniting Lovers. I never thought, in my whole life, that I would be writing to thank someone for casting a love spell on my marriage, but that day has arrived! I have never been happier in my life, and I feel like all of my dreams has turned into reality now. Thank you, Dr Brave , for helping me through the worst times of my life, for being such a great spell caster, and for giving me a love spell that has brought me so much joy. If you doubt his ability, trust me. You should take a chance. It pays off in ways you could never even imagine, Contact him through his website: http://enchantedscents.tripod.com/lovespell/ or his Email: bravespellcaster@gmail.com . thank you so much sir

    ReplyDelete
  21. Greetings My dear friends. I am so happy to share this wonderful testimony about Dr Brave, my name is Mellisa Jefferson I am 32 years old, I live in Florida USA, I am happily married to Sowers Jefferson with three kids we got married in 2004 I am a banker but due to some certain family conditions I had to quit my job so I could have time for my family my husband works in a construction company not long ago around may 2015 my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very Confused by the way he treat me and the Kids. Later that month he did not come home again and he called me that he want a divorce, i asked him what have i Done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying is that he want a divorce That he hate me and do not want to see Me again in his life, i was mad and also Frustrated do not know what to do,i was Sick for more than 4 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is Incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believed in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted Dr Brave for the return of my husband to me, he told me that my husband have Been taken by another woman, that she cast a spell on him that is why he hate me and also want us to divorce. then he told me that he have to cast a spell on him that will make him return to Me and the kids, he casted the spell and After 27hours my husband called me and He told me that i should forgive him, he Started to apologize on phone and said That he still loves me that he did not know what happen to him that he left me. it was the spell that Dr Brave casted on him that brought him back to me today, i and my family Are now happy again today. thank you Dr Brave for what you have done for me i would have been nothing Today if not for your great spell. i want You my friends who are passing through All this kind of love problem of getting Back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact him on this email: bravespellcaster@gmail.com , web site:http://enchantedscents.tripod.com/lovespell/ . and you will see that your problem will be solved Without any delay or effect cell number +2348072370762 Thanks for reading..

    ReplyDelete

Comments on posts over 14 days are SPAM filtered and may not show up right away or at all.

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies

.

Comments are unmoderated. Blog owner is not responsible for third party content. By leaving comments on the blog, commenters give license to the blog owner to reprint attributed comments in any form.