Childhood psychopathy is one of the most interesting phenomena from the world of psychology. The presence of boys and girls who do not empathize with others and who can perform cruel or manipulative acts without feeling remorse raises alarm bells for parents and educators.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what is known about childhood psychopathy and how this condition is expressed through the actions of these little ones.
Childhood psychopathy: definition
Although there is no fully accepted definition, psychopathy is considered to be a type of disorder characterized by a lack of empathy and guilt, As well as by the tendency to disinhibition.
In the clinical field, it is called antisocial personality disorder, a name that already indicates the type of problems caused by this condition: conflicts in personal relationships or attacks on others, whether through physical violence or not.
Childhood psychopathy, in particular, is the condition associated with psychopathic traits that it occurs during the childhood phase. In other words, it is not a differentiated mental disorder, although naturally this condition is expressed differently in children and adults.
In addition, it has been observed that it is common for psychopathy to appear during the first years of life, and its presence at this stage of life serves to predict the chances of this person exhibiting antisocial traits upon arrival. adulthood.
Symptoms of childhood psychopathy
First of all, you have to keep in mind that there is no instrument to measure and diagnose psychopathy which lets you know for sure what is going on in a child’s mind and whether or not they are expressing this disorder.
In any case, what is done is to conduct interviews with the parents or guardians, as well as the little ones, and from the crossing of a series of data, a conclusion is drawn. Moreover, this always it should be performed by psychiatrists or clinical psychologists, Depending on the legislation of each country.
In any case, as an indication, we can recognize several symptoms typical of childhood psychopathy and which, if given in a clear and sustained way over time, can reveal information about the probabilities that a child suffers from. this disorder.
1. Permanent challenge to the rules
We’re not talking about breaking the rules associated with a good education, but those that they concern the most elementary forms of coexistence. For example, systematically throwing food on the ground, assaulting other children or even adults, etc.
2. Explosions of violence
In general, the infantile stage is characterized by disinhibition. However, this is absolute in children with psychopathic traits. This is why it is possible that sometimes sand violently strike people or animals, Which brings us to the next point.
3. Animal abuse
Many of these little ones take advantage of times when there are no adults nearby injure or even kill animals, For the simple pleasure of “playing” with them, as if they were detachable toys. However, it is also possible that they are doing it just for the sake of causing you pain.
4. Absence of remorse
In childhood psychopathy punishments and quarrels have little effectBecause even if it is understood that others recognize certain activities as bad and unwanted, it does not matter. In any case, the important thing is to create strategies to avoid such situations in the future.
The exact cause of psychopathy is unknown, although it is believed there is an important genetic component. However, it is highly likely that in most cases the disorder has more than one cause and that the genotype is just something that predisposes. For example, it has been seen that certain injuries to the frontal lobe of the brain can generate these symptoms, and something similar happens with the continued experience of very stressful or traumatic experiences.
Advice for parents
It should be clear that in any case, psychopathy, whether in children, adolescents or adults, is not a diagnostic category with well-defined limits, but in it there are different degrees. . That is why many psychologists prefer to talk about the traits of psychopathy, And no “psychopathic people”.
That’s why, even if a mental health team points out that a minor has significant psychopathic traits, that doesn’t mean they have to be like a movie psychopath or a killer. Statistically, even people who fall into this fuzzy classification tend more towards normality than towards more extreme characteristics.
Also, since little is known about psychopathy, it is possible that it is a false positive and that the child’s behavior will naturally evolve towards normality, without intervention. After all some minors may express their discomfort and emotional problems behave in a very similar way to psychopaths, for a while.
That said, you should also know that unfortunately today there is no treatment that offers guarantees of its effectiveness in the intervention on childhood psychopathy, which does not mean that it should never be. . This means that we should be wary of those who offer “cures” and other miraculous therapies; while it is not impossible for psychotherapy to improve, it is unlikely to happen or to happen because of it.