According to this research, a child psychopath exhibits similar traits to those of adult psychopaths.
The telltale signs of psychopathy involve a disregard for others’ feelings and a complete lack of remorse.
It is only logical that the person who holds the primary responsibility to care for the child would read the problems quite early in the child’s life than anybody else.
Those who don’t come in close contact with the child may dismiss the disruptive behavior as indications of the “terrible twos,” a problem that may become serious, but not threatening, if it doesn’t become too severe.
The authors of this research paper are of the view that their work can help in preventing children from going into psychopaths and anti-social.
Since the signs can be identified very early; teachers and parents can take measures to cultivate in them more emotional, positive, and pro-social ways of connecting with others around them.
What causes psychopathy in children?
Some people say psychopaths are born and some say they are made. It’s a never-ending debate. But researchers have found that psychopathy is the result of the cumulative effect of –
- Genetic factors
- Family dynamics (parental separation, poor bonding with parents, etc)
- Life Experiences (physical abuse, negligence, peer victimization, substance abuse, etc.)
- Early exposure to a dysfunctional environment
Some studies showed that children with callous and unemotional traits may have changes in brains because they react differently to fear, sadness, and negative stimuli and experience difficulty recognizing other people’s emotions.
There isn’t any single diagnostic test to determine a child may be a psychopath, but psychologists do have several assessments available to help them assess and measure a child’s symptoms.
Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory (YPI) is one of the most commonly used assessments. It’s a self-report instrument, meaning that adolescents are given the test and asked to answer the questions about themselves. It’s meant to measure personality traits rather than behavior. The test assesses for the following symptoms:
- Dishonest charmGrandiosity
Adolescents with high callous and unemotional traits are likely to commit crimes in groups. According to researchers children ranking high in psychopathy are highly likely to be the ringleaders who influence the other members of their group to engage in antisocial behavior.
Is psychopathy treatable?
There isn’t a specific medication that treats the symptoms of psychopathy, but medication may be part of the treatment plan. Antipsychotic medication, such as risperidone, is effective in decreasing aggression in children with conduct disorder. Mood stabilizers and other medications may also be administered to help a child improve emotional dysregulation.
As per recent studies, symptoms of psychopathy can improve with intense treatments. However, the interventions should be tailored to each child’s unique cognitive and emotional status and their level of motivation.
The interventions have to be introduced in every aspect of the child’s life. The authors clearly state, “parental characteristics, attitudes, caregiving practices, and the broader family ecology” (p. 1817) should be considered when isolating the risk factors and then making changes to the child’s living environment to increase his or her chances of overcoming the traits in the personality that will lead to grave problems in the future.
Specialized treatment is a must as children who exhibit psychopathy don’t respond to the usual method of discipline. Because they are simply not worried or don’t care about the consequences and if others are disappointed in their choices.
Some studies found that reward-based interventions – where children are rewarded for good behavior – can have a positive impact on children’s behavior. Also, learning programs focused on stimulating empathy, problem-solving skills, or skills that can help children cope up with anger or frustration.