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Common Childhood Characteristics among Psychopaths

Updated on October 30, 2015

Psychopaths know no decent age to commit their crimes. Whether these are small crimes that they may be forgiven for or surprisingly cruel crimes that will land them with several life sentences, the psychopath does not care. These make for fearful individuals and the worst part is that like any other person, they start as children. Parents should consider the behavior of their child in order to prevent the rise of a new psychopath in the near future.

What Makes a Psychopath?

Technically, psychopathy is a mental condition in which a patient suffers from an antisocial personality disorder, lack of empathy, and delusions. These people grow to be some of the scariest people you will meet not because they look like psychopaths, but because they can look like anyone. They can be your regular pizza delivery guy or your charming instructor because intelligent psychopaths know how to use manipulation and charm in order to entrance everyone. Here are some of the characteristics to look out for:

  • Charismatic – Psychopaths know how to smile and say the right things to gain your trust.

  • Manipulative – As they do not know or have any feelings of guilt, they can use their emotions to manipulate others into doing what they want.

  • Can be highly intelligent – Not all highly intelligent individuals are psychopaths, and not all psychopaths are highly intelligent, but those who are will use their intelligence in imaginative ways of doing their crime and getting away with them.

  • Lacks feelings of remorse or guilt – They do not feel concerned about hurting others and they do not seem to care if anyone gets hurt, even if it is someone close to them.

  • Easily bored – Psychopaths are often bored and wanting to do something new. This is especially dangerous once they’ve started to commit crimes because their crimes will only grow in intensity or number.

  • Has a feeling of self-importance – Psychopaths think that they have a bigger purpose and that they are meant for something bigger. It is common for psychopaths to suffer from narcissism.

Childhood Characteristics to Watch Out For

Most psychopaths have worsened over time, which would signify that in their younger days symptoms of their behavior can already be seen. If you are worried that your child might be exhibiting psychopathic behaviors, these characteristics identified by experts should help:

  • Love for setting fires – One of the best indicators of psychopathic behavior is the interest in setting fires. Some children set fires to small objects while others purposefully set fires to other houses just because they know that they can.

  • Cruelty to animals involving torture and even murder – Psychopaths enjoy control and violence. They relish the torture and murder of animals. It can start with the neighborhood pets, but when left untreated, they might grow into adults with a need to torture and kill, and this time they will not be content with animals.

  • Violation of others’ rights – The psychopath does not have a feeling of remorse, which is why they do not care for the rights of others.

  • Absence of guilt – The psychopath does not show any sign of guilt even after breaking the rules or hurting someone. Even if they apologize, it seems insincere. They have no problems lying, and they are often good at it.

  • No concern about academic performance – Psychopaths do not care about how they do in school. They may fail or they may get a good grade, but the rewards or punishments that come with those don’t concern them.

  • Using emotions to manipulate others – Manipulating people is very common among psychopaths. They like asserting their power and this can be done through emotional manipulation. They may look hurt or weak just so one will do their bidding.

  • Always blaming others – They do not turn to themselves as the cause of the problem even if it is very obvious. They often have someone or something to blame, which is associated with their feeling of self-importance.

  • Bedwetting over the age of 12 – Bedwetting in children is common, but bedwetting beyond the age of 12 can be a sign of a disturbing personality.

If most of these characteristics are present, the best thing to do is to contact an expert. Self-diagnosis is not enough. A clinical diagnosis is important as well as treatment of these childhood symptoms.

Levi King

As a child, Levi King has already shown the characteristics of a psychopath. He set his sister’s bedroom on fire, shot his own cat, and even broke into a house to start a fire. He also dropped out of school at fifteen and always had a run-in with the law. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 20, and in 2005, at 23 he murdered a family just because he felt a tension that needed to be released. He did not know the victims and apparently after killing them he felt peace.

He did not express any sign of remorse. Unfortunately, King has not been given the death penalty.

Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy is the reason why the term “serial killer” exists. This classic example of a psychopath has gone on a raping and killing spree with his victims all being females with hair parted in the middle. Even when he moved to different places, there was always the urge to kill again. Bundy is an intelligent psychopath. On the outside he was a charming young man who studied law, was liked by everyone, mild-mannered, and almost seemed perfect. But on the inside, he manipulated his victims into going with him under various guises. He pretended to be handicapped and needing help to lure them into his car. He would also sometimes impersonate police officials.

In his younger years, he was shy and unable to adapt to social situations. He felt different even though he could not pinpoint why. It was in his high school days that he became more popular. He did everything to impress a girl he liked, even if it meant lying. The girl didn’t appreciate the lies, and Bundy could not understand why his efforts failed.

Thought, Plan, Intent

It is not unusual for a person to want to “kill” someone whom they have had an altercation with. Does this thought make one a psychopath? Yes and no. Yes, if the thought is accompanied by a plan or the intent to actually do it. Most people who say they want to “kill” their neighbor because of garbage or other seemingly mundane problems do not actually mean to do it. However, the psychopath has the plan and the intent to go with it. The thought of killing another is often in their minds and the plan is already laid out in varying degrees of complication. Bundy planned beforehand to put a cast on his arm or leg to sell his guise as a handicap.

The intent to kill coupled with the thought is how King ended up with a life sentence. It is unclear whether he had a plan, but when he entered the farmhouse to commit his crimes in 2005, he did not go there to ask for help. He had the intent to kill. Sometimes the act of heading over to a location is already enough of a plan when coupled with a strong intent and thought.

Looking at children through watchful eyes can put an end to psychopathic tendencies and prevent them from committing crimes in the future. It is a parent’s task to look for the common childhood characteristics of psychopaths in their children and if these exist, the children must be given the help that they need. With intervention, there should be lesser psychopaths among us in this day and age.

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