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#8047 - 05/26/09 10:43 AM Re: RAD or Fledgling [Re: ]
Dianne E. Offline


Registered: 11/15/02
Posts: 2789
Loc: United States
Interesting list of people who will evaluate youths:

#9031 - 01/15/10 03:56 PM Re: RAD or Fledgling Psychopaths? [Re: Dianne E.]
RADgrad Offline

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 15
Hello, I am new to the group, and have tried to read what members have already written, so that I won't be too redundant.

It is my feeling that the terms Attachment Disorder or Reactive Attachment Disorder are already making the assumption that voluntary attachment is the underlying problem, whereas voluntary attachment is simply one manifestation of the disorder. I would argue that the disorder should be renamed.

In order to understand RAD, we need to get past our emotional reactions and explanations and understand the science of it. RAD is a form of PTSD. PTSD is BRAIN DAMAGE caused by trauma so significant that our brains release destructive toxins that permanently kill brain cells. Since the destruction is physical, the extent of the brain damage and the recovery from the damage can vary hugely between victims.

We imagine that RAD is most likely caused by abuse and neglect. But someone here posted that there are children all over the world that are impoverished and in abject neglect, many also abused, who do not become RAD. The cause of RAD must be far more brutal in order to result in toxin-destroyed brain cells. So WHAT causes it?? In order to further frame the cause, we must realise that a pre-natal child has already fully BONDED with the mother in utero (involuntary, but critically necessary attachment), and RECOGNISES his or her mother by scent, voice, and heartbeat, just as an animal does!! We quickly lose this ability over a short time, but we must, must, must understand and respect this involuntary though deep bonding - because to break it by maternal separation (or by excruciatingly extreme - not casual - maternal neglect) is to risk causing permanent stress-related trauma of separation so severe as to liken it to torture. When a pre-verbal child is separated from Mother, while it may seem to us adults that this is not unduly traumatic, we are very, very wrong in our assumptions. Maternal separation at a pre-verbal age is tantamount to the most depraved of human torture, and results in the same physical brain damage. I argue that it is maternal separation any time after birth and up to pre-verbal growth that perpetrates most of the RAD conditions found. What used to be known as "crack baby syndrome" has been debunked, and we now know that when we incarcerate mothers for drug usage, thereby separating them from their newborns, it is the separation, and NOT the "crack," that causes RAD.

Many here have accepted that RAD (which is a variation of PTSD) is a form of sociopathy. But why aren't post-verbal and adult PTSD sufferers also sociopaths?? The difference between post-verbal and pre-verbal (RAD) onset of PTSD is the growth of the human brain. The human brain is the only brain that that grows, and the most significant growth of the human brain is during the pre-verbal stage. (Please bear in mind that I am not a scientist, and my grasp of this stuff is rude at best.) A prolonged severe trauma to a pre-verbal brain can cause damage unlike any damage perpetrated on a more fully grown brain, because the pre-verbal growth of the cortex and cerebellum can be stunted. These are areas of the brain that are thought to be centers for coping with consequences and for developing a conscience, reflexes and conditioning that are already fully formed (although perhaps compromised by PTSD damage?) in post-verbal or adult brains.

Without a sense of consequence, we cannot develop trust. Without trust, we cannot develop conscience or voluntary attachment or voluntary love. By trying to therapeutically treat the attachment aspect, we jump ahead of the extremely necessary basis for voluntary attachments, namely consequence, trust and conscience, and the years of cycling between all of those features that contribute to a mentally healthy, functioning and socialised human.

Are RAD children sociopaths? Yes, I believe they are. I agree with those here who have asserted that sociopaths do not register normal fear - neither do RAD children. RAD children can also have no reaction to pain - other than to perhaps develop an enjoyment of it, but only if the source of the pain is at the hands of another person, and if that person is controlled by the sociopath.

All emotional feelings may be processed and reduced to physical sensation by RAD children. For instance, affection and love are complex emotions in a normal human and thrive on an evolving cycle of trust, which the RAD child will instead try to re-engineer into inappropriate sex and other physical titillation, even to the point were they invite (and enjoy) sexual and other physical abuses. RAD children are insatiable for physical sensation, though never indeed achieve satisfaction.

RAD children do participate in a form of attachment, but it is predatory. In order for a RAD child to prove a bond, he or she must make us to do something for, or to, that child that we would never in a million years to for or to anyone else on earth. Take me for instance - I do not yell, get physical, swear or lose control to anger or frustration with anyone, and certainly not with my children - EXCEPT with my adopted daughter when she lived with us. And only when she got me to that boiling point, and kept me there by her relentless mind-games and emotional blackmail, did she seem in any way satisfied. She did not fear me in the least, and would seek me out to provoke. I was a toy, like a cat with a mouse, and the game never grew dull for her. I could be provoked for days on end and never show a reaction, maintain my level of authority (only after years of self-training), but eventually I would break. And this is the manner inwhich we had "bonded." Once I figured this out, all I wanted to do was to UNBOND, UNATTACH. Any therapist who suggested attachment therapy got a firm "NO" from me. When a child wants to destroy those who threaten to attach, who would want to further pursue any such thing??

(I have found that most attachment therapy ends up focusing on the caregiver instead of the child. When the therapist becomes frustrated at the inability to alter the child's behaviors, the caregiver becomes the target for change instead. "Curing" the caregiver does not make sense to me at all.)

Other "bonding" attempts with my daughter were between my young sons and my husband, trying to get them to engage in sex with her. She made sexual approaches with all sorts of people, most ofwhom would have been guilty of statutory rape had she been successful. Again, she would try to entice people do things with her that they would never to with anyone else. She also convinced children younger than her to steal from their parents and from stores, which I consider another misguided bonding exercise, where my daughter would prove that the children would do this for her and for noone else. She cultivated her teachers to single her out negatively, just to reap the intense one-on-one attention that she craved. I finally understood what negative attention was, and why she so desired its individualised intensity over and above the more diffused (shared with other children) positive attention.

A RAD-sufferer's sense of consequence is somewhat developed, but mostly as it applies to others. The rest of us are absolutely supposed to comply with known consequences, and if we don't, a RAD child will accurately detect this and cry out an objection. So on some level, they understand consequences. But the RAD child accepts no jurisdiction of consequence over him- or herself, to a level of absurdity, and does not believe that consequences apply to him, despite all the evidence to the contrary. The RAD child will repeat for years the same negative, self-destructive or predatory act -- yet will not repeat actions with positive and appropriate consequences. The choice of negative versus positive consequences is not random. The child opts to repeat the negative rather than the positive. It is the lack of randomness that proves to me that this is a sociopathy.

Serial killers are profiled by this same prediliction for repetition, the lack of randomness. Even as adults, they will perform, with painstaking accuracy, the same murder over and over again, even to the point of choosing victims who have the same physical characteristics. This is RAD to the max!

RAD children were diagnosed as autistic for a while, before the concept of RAD emerged. I can see where RAD might be confused for autism - the social and interpersonal data is processed very, very differently by a RAD child, as it is for an autistic person. The majority of professionals still misinterpret and even outright reject the RAD pathology entirely, especially in view of our society's penchant for eugenics, deliberately severing children from undesirable homes and placing them in more advantaged households. Identifying a child as RAD seems too extreme to our society, but to call such a child a sociopath is well beyond our society's ability to fathom and accept; a child cannot possibly be a sociopath! I argue that these children are children only in body, and that their minds are not at all the minds of children.

How to treat it? Maybe the answer is to start with re-patterning the framework of consequence. For newborns, the process of understanding consequences begins immediately. They do not immediately equate consequences with anything or anyone, but over time, they learn who does what and eventually why. With a baby and natural family, the primary caregivers provide the environment for the consequences, most ofwhich we hope are good ones, while some are necessarily negative. But with a separated child (even if later reunited with Mother), these are not the optimal conditions for patterning, because the involuntary attachment has been severed through trauma. I argue that lessons of consequence must be rigorously patterned in a therapeutic, non-caregiving environment, though reinforced by the caregivers. Since diagnosed children are older and probably already verbal, the patterning would have to be quite different from that given to an infant or toddler. It sounds cruel to suggest the Skinner Box approach of mild electric shocks versus a candy-coated M&M to cultivate appropriate use of consequences, but that's where I am leaning. Whatever it is, the therapy has got to be industrial strength, and not some feel-good love-is-the-answer failed approach.

One interesting recent discovery with adult PTSD sufferers: The injured war vets who were immediately treated with morphine were one-third less likely to suffer later from PTSD. I am guessing that the morphine was sometimes enough to ameliorate the emotional trauma and thereby prevent the secretion of killer brain toxins. My heretical suggestion is to administer morphine immediately to newly separated pre-verbal children to lessen the physical trauma of separation. The irony is that society will be more enraged by this suggestion, and shriek about child abuse, over and above the dire warning not to separate children at all. I contend that child removal alone IS CHILD ABUSE in its most heinous form. Unfortunately morphine medication does not prevent the involuntary attachment bond from being irreparably severed. We clearly do not yet know anything about the repurcussions of a severed involuntary bond without the toxic brain trauma added to it - can a separated child be DRUGGED into loving an exchanged new family?? Drugging of children by Child Protective Services is routine, in order to lessen the children's desperate grief and acting out due to separation, but the drugging seems to be more in the best interests of the artificial family rather than in the child's best interests.

If you have managed to slog through this, type-o's and all, I thank you for your patience. It's good to finally find such a group. In general, RAD chat groups tend to be more restrictive, continuing to perpetuate the child-separation-and-adoption cycle, and discouraging terming RAD children as psychopaths.

#9034 - 01/16/10 06:17 AM Re: RAD or Fledgling Psychopaths? [Re: RADgrad]

Hello RAD grad

Welcome to our forum and we look forward to hearing more from you and what brought you here.
I have spent many years researching RAD as well as psychopathy so was very interested in what you wrote and was keen to read to the end of your post.

I will go through your post and address everything you discussed in turn but firstly I will write about my thoughts on the issue. We seem to be in agreement from our own personal experience.

I do believe there is such a thing as Attachment Disorder that occurs because a child does not get the focused attention it needs from a primary caregiver in the first months of life. According to the research of Professor Sir Michael Rutter these children, if placed within the right family, will improve in a relatively short time. I have posted this research but can do so again if you can’t find it and I would love to see the information you have on RAD being a form of PTSD. Please could you either post a link to it or direct me to where I can find the research?

Rutter’s research shows traumatised children from Romanian orphanages, nearly all improved, apart from the small percentage who had another condition as well. His statistics seem to be in line with average figures for any condition occurring. That is the good news.
I also believe that there are many factors that AD or RAD is ‘diagnosed’ and not all of them for the right reasons. The main two being ignorance and money.
His research would show that the effect of their trauma is reversible in most cases therefore it would appear that there is no permanent brain damage caused but some children will not improve due to other concurrent disorders. Whether they can just adapt by learning how to achieve positive outcomes which in turn brings reward could be another issue.

I think John Bowlby’s research has been relegated by newer information as the circumstances where it was conducted were too subjective.

You may have read my posts and the reason I originally came to this forum but if mot I will give you a very brief history. My partner had sole custody of his kid who had behaviour issues that we tried to get help with. Our initial research led us to think he had RAD but it just didn’t seem to fit what he was doing so we persevered and eventually came to the conclusion (with an indication from a child psychologist) that he was a fledgling psychopath. As you know children under 18 years cannot be ‘diagnosed’ a psychopath only as having Conduct Disorder.
This sort of situation could have made us follow the RAD route as it gives a problem that has a reason, a cause and a possible solution. The positive side of this would be that it gave us something to work on while he was growing up but on the negative side we would have just been harbouring a potential psychopath.

This child had all the right conditions to attach to both his mother and father from birth but didn’t. He rejected his mother and refused to ever settle with her despite what she did for him so my partner took over his care as he worked from home. This kid continued this pattern of rejection/non attachment the rest of his life. He is nearly 18 now.
As the statistics show 1 to 4% of the population is psychopathic it’s my belief he was part of this minority. Of course there could be in utero toxins as well as genetic predisposition (his mother has a personality disorder) or both- that cause this to happen and maybe that is where your searches have led you?

Next we need to think about the word ‘sociopathy’. That word is used in various ways and has different connotations to psychopathy. Many use it in the context of society or environment being responsible for behaviour therefore not as serious as psychopathy. Some use it to apply a name to those who commit non violent crimes like the average con man. They may even be attached to someone or a pet so could not be described as psychopathic. It has been decided in medical terms to describe the disorder as Antisocial Personality Disorder then further define it as ‘with psychopathic traits’. So I prefer not to use the word sociopath.
I can see how you would say “RAD children are sociopaths” in the broad sense of the term if you use the former perception.

Going back to in utero conditions, I agree with what you say about ‘crack babies’ and this could apply to other toxins too. I am a firm believer in genetic predisposition to personality as well as physical attributes. If your read Dr Essi Viding’s twin studies research you will find some very interesting data on this.
We are all 50% genetic make up from each of our parents so we must inherit the predisposition to many things in our personality not just physical features. My sisters and I were brought up in the same way and have very different personality traits we can identify in our parents but we learned our morals from them so all have the same standards of behaving. Things we are and things we do.
We were brought up more like the ‘Skinner’ model but because we did have conscience we could be persuaded why we shouldn’t do certain things. We did get smacked for certain misdemeanours but we knew we were wrong so the ‘punishment’ was justified. I can say I was never hit, it was more a tap. The point being we were able to learn unlike a punishment insensitive psychopath.

With my partner’s kid there was nothing we could punish him with. We started by taking toys away until his toy box was empty but he didn’t care. We moved on to sending him to his room until he became like a prisoner in solitary confinement but still no effect. Shouting had a counter productive effect as he would smirk with a self satisfied smirk that he had control over our reactions to him. We had tried all the usual positive things like star charts and rewards before going down the punishment route. He was never smacked and I think even if he had been it would have made zero difference. He loved any attention as you say, negative attention was more important to him than positive. It would also have demonstrated our anger and loss of control so he would win again. We had to hide any negative emotions we had so we remained in a stronger position.

I can see why therapy ends up being for the parents if we are really dealing with psychopathy( not RAD) as there is not cure or therapy for it. We need support to get through life with a psychopathic child, especially when it’s a biological child. Most parents just have to live with it until the child leaves home. We were fortunate that my partner’s kid went back to his own mother but I know it’s difficult to dissolve an adoption placement.

There are so many similarities and co-morbid disorders that can be so difficult to identify and it concerns me that many children with Autism will have the same characteristics as a kid with psychopathy. FAS and FAE children too. What if they were to receive the ‘therapy’ recommended for RAD?

What is frightening is the propaganda about RAD in the US. Many children are being ‘diagnosed’ with RAD because there is a ready market of therapists and clinics ready to take the insurance claims. To get insurance pay out the diagnosis needs to be fixable if not curable so the range of disorders is broadened to include ADD, ADHD and many other alphabet soup combinations.

I have also found information that primary school teachers in the US are given a checklist of behaviours to look for in the children starting at their schools. This is based on the hyped up RAD checklist and includes every single behaviour any child would exhibit at some time. If this isn’t bad enough they are warned that up to 33% of children are suffering from RAD and need to be ‘diagnosed’ early therefore they need to be alert and get these children into ‘therapy’.
Where do you think they get this information from…..therapists and clinics? Where are teachers recommended to refer these identified children….therapists and clinics?
Looks like these places have their marketing in place, a ready made supply of patients and a source of income?

I am very interested in what you say about morphine administered to war veterans to ameliorate PTSD. Could it be that it replaces endorphins? Maybe PTSD destroys the ability of these hormones to function? I’m sure there must be some later synthetic medication that might produce the same results as morphine and not just methadone substitute.

There has also been research showing that people having therapy for their issues do not have a better outcome long term than those who just ‘deal with it’. The ones who had a strong support circle of either friends or family had the best long term outcomes. The main reason stated was that having therapy validated that the person had a serious problem and needed outside intervention to fix the problem. I suppose it allowed the person do dwell on it and even magnify it whereas someone sharing their problems in a non therapeutic setting would minimise the problem to a manageable level.
When you think how our friends react when we approach them with a problem, they tend to play it down so it doesn’t take over from reasoning how to cope with it.
They help us look for reasons, causes and solutions rather than internalise our feelings of hopelessness and impotence.

I suppose this comes full circle to Rutter’s thinking and he is a proponent of positive family dynamics that have been shown to help children suffering from real Attachment Disorder.
When you read the DSM-1V criteria for Attachment Disorder it is very different to the extended checklists promoted by many attachments therapists.
There are two sorts of attachment disorder. one where the child avoids attaching to anyone and the second where they have an indiscriminate attachment style. Of course both styles will lead to certain behaviours but attachment style is distinct from conduct disorder. True Attachment Disorder may well just present as basically as the outline of the two styles with no obvious behaviour problems. I have yet to see on any RAD forum a parent describe their child as only having an attachment style with no behaviour problems.

To sum up I would like to see the facts presented rather than the hype we read about. There are a very small minority of children with Attachment Disorder (I’m not even sure that the word Reactive should be included)
There are children with Conduct Disorder (fledgling psychopaths) and there are children who have the first due to the second.
Autistic children who have Attachment Disorder.
Children from antisocial backgrounds who are brought up in the sort of home that overlooks the usual rules of society and will have a % of psychopathic parents who produce children with a highly heritable disorder. There may be a higher psychopathic proportion than average families.
Some children have parents who think that a highly active child has conduct disorder and can’t cope with it.
There are some children who are spoiled brats who behave like conduct disordered children.
And everything in between so let’s call a spade –a spade!

Have your read about RAD at Delphi forums? I find that place seriously disturbing! Often parents post there with a vague notion their children have RAD and they are immediately validated and ‘diagnosed’ and pushed towards therapists, reading materials,/DVDs, home spun therapies and clinics. Even to the untrained it is obvious that the majority of these children have some other problem but no-one seems to challenge what is said. I once posted about the RAD/fledgling issue and what a storm that created! A question not even a statement had them whipped up into a frenzy. I don’t ever see research posted there only anecdotal evidence….and as for success …well….I rest my case! Obviously they all know better than Professor Rutter….then they talk about ‘healing’ as being an option.
If a person from outside the US posts they are ignored…being cynical I would suggest that is because I wouldn’t be part of the US system buying therapy. It makes me wonder if some of the members are paid commission for people they push towards clinics and therapists.

There is some very dodgy stuff going on with therapeutic foster homes and adoption placements etc. You may well have come across some of this and it’s all about making money.

I’m so pleased you have written so lucidly on the topic and look forward to hearing much more. I would really like to know of all the information you have found useful.


#9035 - 01/16/10 01:09 PM Re: RAD or Fledgling Psychopaths? [Re: ]
RADgrad Offline

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 15
Jan, thank you for your thoughtful response to my brain-dumping -- first-time posters like moi can be so long-winded... This is stuff that has been rattling in my head for years, yet largely unexpressed, because all my friends go glassy-eyed if I bring up this topic at all. It is so gratifying to find someone who will indulge in this conversation!

As far as the relationship between RAD and PTSD, the bulk of the psychiatrists in the U.S., assuming they recognise RAD at all, believe that a RAD diagnosis must be accompanied by a diagnosis of PTSD. Many clinicians embrace the cluster of RAD symptoms but refuse to classify a child as RAD, and will instead classify the child as suffering from PTSD. The latter frustrate me, because the effects of pre-verbal PTSD differ markedly from post-verbal PTSD, due to the differences in the resulting physical brain damage. One of the recent therapeutic approaches is to treat child RAD sufferers with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), which was formerly used only with adult PTSD sufferers.

There are those who distinguish between PTSD and C-PTSD (Complex PTSD), in order to correlate PTSD with attachment issues. - wikipedia has some really interesting stuff that is otherwise very difficult to isolate via google searches.

If there is the possiblity of Attachment Disorder without PTSD, due to non-focused care-giving, then perhaps this is the AD which is curable by love and conventional therapies. But pre-verbal brain damage to the cortex and cerebellum creates a human that cannot respond to such therapies. It does not matter whether the child is swept up within seconds of its birth into the arms of a loving and otherwise stellar family, because this will not necessarily circumvent the brain damage caused by maternal separation or perhaps maternal trauma to the uterus. Can the brain be so damaged in utero - sure, I see no reason why not. Are some humans predisposed to suffer this type of brain damage? - yes, of course, becuase the human brain is a physical entity, with all levels of resilience and weakness.

But RAD is also described as an AVOIDABLE and PREVENTABLE disease. So it is NOT inheritable, per se. What is inherited would be the neurological ability, or lack thereof, to deflect the physical brain damage or even re-wire the neurological paths around the stress-damaged areas. For example, two children in identical circumstances will evolve differently, as you write yourself. The same is true of war combatants who are in the same fox-hole when their buddies are blown to bits. One combatant goes home to become a successful CEO of an enterprise, and the other combatant goes home to live on the street, forever re-living the horrors and unable to cope with everyday life. They have different neurologies that either permitted them to become stronger, or completely destroyed them. This is not a matter of character, where one combatant had more self-esteem, and the other combatant lacked the moral strength to move on. PTSD is physical brain damage, not a character flaw. The successful combatant possessed a physical neurology that avoided damage, whereas the unsuccessful combatant's brain was eaten up by the stress toxins. Is PTSD avoidable? YES. Just as PTSD-RAD is avoidable. Either don't create the trauma situation in the first place, or find some way of preventing the release of the toxins.

I agree with you that people, even in the same families, have different personality traits, much of it inherited. I do distinguish personality traits from the physical resiliance of the brain neurology to damage, although that very resilience is also just as likely to be inherited.

What I am seeing is isolated science, with none of it combined effectively to arrive at the cause and prevention of PTSD-RAD. Until the cause is traced, the cure or the avoidance will elude us. We have proven that human babies recognise their mothers immediately upon birth. We have proven that maternal separation causes severe anxiety in babies. We have proven that pre-verbal PTSD stunts the growth of brain areas. But we have yet to combine the studies and the knowledge gained to arrive at the conclusion that pre-verbal maternal separation (or maternal trauma) causes permanent and devastating stress-caused brain damage. As a society, we cling to the supposition that childhood abuse and neglect cause PTSD-RAD. We see the "proof" - so many (supposedly) abused and neglected children are in foster or adoptive homes. We just KNOW that these kids were abused and neglected, because we are TOLD they are, and even the scientists BELIEVE this premise (why would the government LIE about such a thing??), and base their studies and results on the premise of pre-existing abuse and neglect.

I am going off on a tangent, as I am sure you note. My tangent is based on the knowledge that children are removed from their families on the flimsiest of excuses, lost forever to their families, all "justified" by fabricated allegations of abuse and neglect. (Yes, there is a LOT of money involved in the child removal industry.) A large percentage of these kids become dysfunctional. Why? Well, because we truly believe they were abused and neglected, and there are the court records that "prove" it. A perfect answer. It's just not the truth. I argue that, whatever the true reasons for separation may be, pre-verbal children who are simply removed from their mothers suffer enough separation trauma to damage their developing brains for life. Since by definition, foster and adopt children are separated children, I argue that we cannot ignore the effects of actual separation itself, while blaming dysfunction on everything else - mother was a drunk, house was filthy and diapers were not changed, kids were locked out of the house. Maybe these conditions (if at all true, and I doubt a lot of it) add up to non-PTSD AD, if such an entity exists, but that would be very mild and quite reversable, wholly unlike PTSD-RAD. If it's reversable, it ain't PTSD-RAD.

Jan, I did read a little about your personal involvement with your partner's child, and fully empathise. Only people like us who have experienced these kids by living with them, can fully understand the frustration, guilt, fear and stigma associated with our coping. Just like you, we found no effective punishment, and like you, progressively removed toys and privileges til there was nothing left to remove, to no avail. I confess to experimenting with spanking (a new experience for me), but I soon figured out that the spanking was actually titilating my daughter, and she enjoyed the spanking more as the pain was increased -- this gave me the creeps, and I decided after that not to lay hands on her for any reason whatsoever, including touching for affection, because all touching, soft or hard, seemed to stimulate her sexually. As with your partner's son, my adopted daughter has also severed ties with us. They even seem close in age to each other. With my daughter gone, my family is finally my family again.

I did not know children under 18 years cannot be diagnosed a psychopath. Very interesting. Aside from the clinical refusal to diagnose, there is certainly a societal refusal to classify a child as a psychopath. Big mistake. As far as you coming to the realisation that you were haboring a potential psychopath, I hear ya loud and clear!!!

You distinguish between sociopath and psychopath, whereas I use the word interchangeably. I have no reason to argue your assessment of the difference, and readily agree to use the term psychopath.

As far as RAD therapy being focused on the parents, the redirection is not to support the parents, but rather to criticise them, as if the child's inability to respond to therapy is due to the parents' faulty conduct.

You ask what if autistic or FAS/FAE children were to receive the same therapies as RAD children. I do not know the answer to that, although it certainly is a thought-provoking question. My concern would be that the treatment should be tailored to the cause of the dysfunction rather than the similar manifestations of the various dysfunctions.

That school-administered behavior checklist that you have discovered -- we have the same in the U.S. The U.S. is increasingly passing legislation mandating the schools and hospitals as clearing houses for identifing mothers and children to be funneled into therapy and therapeutic drugging. One act is called The Mother's Act. Once the government starts "offering" therapeutic resources to an "at risk" family, the family has little choice but to "accept" the treatment. But we love these umbrella protections, and vote for these services all the time.

The results of the morphine with regard to preventing PTSD were not anticipated, and I marvel that some scientist was able to either stumble upon this conclusion, or deliberately seek to support a hypothesis. I agree with you that futher study is strongly merited. PTSD is a real crippler.

I share your frustration with the RAD forums. I don't have to imagine that furor that blew up around your suggestion that RAD might lead to psychopathic ends - I have myself made similar inquiries only to be immediately silenced. Since RAD is so closely linked to adoptions, and adoption is sacrosanct and a burgeoning enterprise, we really tread on thin ice when we suggest a fatal flaw. I also grew to mistrust the guidance of psychiatrists, pyschologists, social workers, family, friends - while they all somehow knew exactly what I should do, they all equally missed the crux of the problem, and hindered me far more than they helped any of us.

I’m glad and grateful to meet you here! You have permitted me to speak the unspeakable. In my heart I know I am seeking the truth, but this search is verboten in society.
Wishing you a good weekend,

#9037 - 01/16/10 06:07 PM Re: RAD or Fledgling Psychopaths? [Re: RADgrad]
RADgrad Offline

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 15
Jan, you asked for some published references to support my ramblings. Not so easy to find without memberships to some exclusive professional groups, but here are some summaries which might give a glimmer of understanding. The entirety of what I am trying to piece together (my belief that separation of biological mother may cause irreversible brain damage in children that leads to PTSD-RAD, resulting in untreatable psychopaths) has not yet been published to my knowledge. The supporting knowledge exists as isolated topics, but has not been merged together

Effects caused by loss of biological mother - - this includes the finding as follows:
"In fact, studies show that even abused children placed in foster care do more poorly than abused children who remain with their abusive parents (Bass et al., 2004; Harden, 2004; Kortenkamp, K., and Ehrle, 2002; Lawrence et al. 2006 NSCAW 2004)."

"Children between the ages of 9 months to 3 years, who are removed from their mothers, even for brief periods, suffer extreme separation anxiety, and they experience incredible stress as demonstrated by their crying when separated. As will be detailed later, stress can damage the brain and the immune system, via the secretion of cortisol."

There is no mention of children younger than 9 months, a significant omission.

* * * * *

"The earlier the stress caused by maternal separation, the greater the offspring's later social difficulties."

'“Understanding the mechanisms at work in parenting and the effects of disruptions to the bonds created between parents and children is vitally important,” says Bruce McEwen, PhD, of Rockefeller University. “It directly influences all individuals, and has an effect on society – interrupted parental bonding can cause behavioral problems in school and the workplace, affecting almost everyone.”'

I am reminded that in the olden days, when newborns had to be incubated, or as infants or toddlers had to face hospital surgeries, the biological mothers were separated from their children as part of hospital protocol. Some brilliant soul determined that this separation had adverse effects on the children's health and recovery, and nowadays, mothers are encouraged to be with their hospitalised children as much as possible.

Can newborns recognise Mom? - (sorry for the long link)

Copyright © 2009 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.

Frontal brain activation in premature infants' response to auditory stimuli in neonatal intensive care unit

Yuri Saitoa, , , Rie Fukuharab, Shiori Aoyamac and Tamotsu Toshimad

aTokai Gakuin University, Japan

bPrefectural Hospital of Hiroshima, Japan

cHiroshima University, Japan

dPrefectural University of Hiroshima, Japan

Received 22 January 2009; revised 2 April 2009; accepted 6 April 2009. Available online 2 May 2009.

The present study was focusing on the very few contacts with the mother's voice that NICU infants have in the womb as well as after birth, we examined whether they can discriminate between their mothers' utterances and those of female nurses in terms of the emotional bonding that is facilitated by prosodic utterances. Twenty-six premature infants were included in this study, and their cerebral blood flows were measured by near-infrared spectroscopy. They were exposed to auditory stimuli in the form of utterances made by their mothers and female nurses. A two (stimulus: mother and nurse) × two (recording site: right frontal area and left frontal area) analysis of variance (ANOVA) for these relative oxy-Hb values was conducted. The ANOVA showed a significant interaction between stimulus and recording site. The mother's and the nurse's voices were activated in the same way in the left frontal area, but showed different reactions in the right frontal area. We presume that the nurse's voice might become associated with pain and stress for premature infants. Our results showed that the premature infants reacted differently to the different voice stimuli. Therefore, we presume that both mothers' and nurses' voices represent positive stimuli for premature infants because both activate the frontal brain. Accordingly, we cannot explain our results only in terms of the state-dependent marker for infantile individual differences, but must also address the stressful trigger of nurses' voices for NICU infants.

Keywords: NIRS; NICU; Premature infant; Frontal brain; Auditory stimulus

* * * * *

Of human bonding: newborns prefer their mothers' voices
AJ DeCasper and WP Fifer

By sucking on a nonnutritive nipple in different ways, a newborn human could produce either its mother's voice or the voice of another female. Infants learned how to produce the mother's voice and produced it more often than the other voice. The neonate's preference for the maternal voice suggests that the period shortly after birth may be important for initiating infant bonding to the mother.

* * * * *

The biology of human parenting: insights from nonhuman primates

Dario Maestripieri,

Department of Psychology and Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA

Received 20 September 1997; Revised 5 May 1998; accepted 13 May 1998. Available online 15 January 1999.

Primate and human parenting have often been viewed as completely emancipated from neuroendocrine influences and primarily dependent on experience, social and cognitive processes. A review of recent findings of primate research on the neurobiological regulation of parental responsiveness, the causes of variability in parenting styles, and the determinants of infant abuse suggests that primate parenting is more sensitive to neuroendocrine mechanisms than previously thought. The findings of primate research can have important implications for human research and encourage the investigation of biological influences on human parenting.

Author Keywords: Endogenous opioids; Infant abuse; Hormones; Parental behavior; Oxytocin; Pregnancy; Primates; Serotonin; Temperament

#9041 - 01/17/10 06:13 AM Re: RAD or Fledgling Psychopaths? [Re: RADgrad]

Hi RAD grad

I’m only too pleased to read your posts and share information. I have had the same reaction as you when you talk to people with no experience.
Sometimes we see some connections but not quite sure how they come together so it’s good to have more than one person bringing their perspective to the information and research.
I know I mention Rutter a lot but I do think he speaks a lot of sense and he advises to question everything including the professionals and research. Things move on. Just because we are just ordinary people doesn’t mean to say we know less than a ‘professional’ about some things. I ask constantly which professional has lived with a psychopath like we have? We are the professionals for that. In fact I did a presentation to a group of professional psychologists and educational psychologists and they were all fascinated to hear a first hand account of day to day life with a psychopath. They had seen plenty but only in clinical or research settings and we all know how these kids can manipulate any situation. I had to smile at one of them (as did the rest of the group) when he suggested that positive rewards and praise would improve the kid’s behaviour, he was the educational psychologist and wouldn’t know what a psychopath was if he fell over one.

What is even more worrying is when I met a child psychologist who said she had never heard of childhood psychopathy and didn’t want to think about it because it was so unpleasant for her! She doesn’t live in the UK but it’s probably not rare.

I have heard it mentioned that Complex PTSD is being talked about in relation to RAD, I’m not sure whether it’s intended to be a completely new diagnostic term or an addition to the RAD diagnosis.
I should make it clear that I firmly believe psychopaths are born that way from their genetic make-up but I think there may well be something in what you say. Are the genes damaged by stress…..could very well be and fits well with what professionals say in the nature/nurture debate. Chicken or the egg dilemma?
I can only relate my experience and knowledge and we don’t know if my partner’s kid suffered any in utero barrage of hormones that led to him being born with an inability to attach. His rejection of his mother was instant. As far as we know she said she didn’t drink alcohol while pregnant but as the child she had in her subsequent marriage has the features of FAS we will never know for sure. I know she smoked cigarettes while pregnant and I have read one piece of research about maternal smoking and toxins passing through the placenta.

The kid did not suffer from stress or anxiety and was in fact at the other end of the spectrum. As psychopaths are anxiety free and usually fearless I think he fitted that model better. His attachment issues were he didn’t give a cuss for anyone else. He could move from person to person, place to place almost with excitement that he had new prey to target. He never once showed any signs of missing anyone including his own mother when he lived with his father and she stopped contacting him. When he went back to live with her he dumped his father instantly. He knew we were not going to be a source of supply any more so of no further use to him.
It is not the sort of reaction you get from a child and it’s like being psychopathic is a very adult thing to be.

I think AD or RAD is a completely different thing to psychopathy but the two can be present in the same person. Lack of attachment is a symptom of psychopathy so it’s very difficult to separate them. I’m trying to understand your perspective on this and I can see you are taking steps further back than I am. I find this very interesting and will explore what you say. I still keep coming back to AD being just a style of bonding/attaching and not related to all the checklist behaviours propounded. If a child doesn’t bond/attach to another in an appropriate way then other issues will arise but I can’t see it being related to criminal behaviour in any way.

The checklist I was referring to are ones from the US. We don’t hear AD/RAD being mentioned over here as it is so rare and only applies to children from observable traumatic circumstances and seems to go hand in hand with failure to thrive and lack of stimulation. Therefore children from places like Romanian orphanages are seen to be the typical victims. Thinking about what you say about pre and post verbal trauma I’m not sure how that would fit as it could cover both times. Maybe you could explain a bit more on your thinking? I suppose many of these children would have no attachment issues if born to another family. It is not lack of bonding ability but lack of opportunity that causes their inability to attach and can be repaired?

I suppose AD is preventable to a huge extent, if every pregnancy was trauma free and every child had a positive bonding experience from birth but that’s not a realistic expectation. There will always be unpreventable situations but there must be a % of people who are born psychopathic with not particular cause just as some people are born with any other disorder such as cleft palate or autism.
Again to mention Rutter, he talks of the resilience of children being quite remarkable so despite terrible circumstances of early life they do not succumb to their situation.
My own son was premature and in an incubator for his first week and was fed through tubes and I couldn’t hold him but he had absolutely no attachment issues yet he would be a perfect case for a RAD diagnosis by the Delphi people.

As for therapy given to children purported to be attachment disordered who may have autism is appalling. The methods used such as forcing eye contact and being held is what they cannot tolerate and when they rage against it they are broken like horses. With FAS the learning difficulties are a huge part of the problem and you can’t repair that damage with any therapy. This is a big reason why proper diagnosis is necessary. I agree with you totally ..horses for courses….right diagnosis, right therapy or no therapy in the case of psychopathy as it’s known to make matters worse.

As far as I can see psychopaths have a choice how they behave and act and know what is right because they are capable of doing the ‘right thing’ to get what they want. If it was just RAD then they would be aware of the need to fit in with society and make the right choices as the acceptable way of doing things as a rational choice to avoid the stress and anxiety of being caught out and punished.

I have found a couple of forums for adult survivors of ‘RAD’ so I’ll find the links for you. A lot of the sites for research and data will allow you to join if you are ‘studying’ the subject of their site so it’s not always necessary to be connected to any institution.

I will reply to your second post later rather than give you too much to read in one go. It will also give me time to read the links you posted, thanks for those! I will enjoy reading. I’m trying to go deeper into what you say as I can see what you are getting to. Maybe we can prompt future research if we can come up with a reasonable hypothesis by coming up with different connections. Wouldn’t it be good if we could find a physical scar or mark that would identify these disorders? By exposing behaviours like some of the bizarre things they do we may find some common denominators to add the Dr Hare’s checklist.

Are you able to tell us a bit more about the problems you have encountered because of your daughter? I get the feeling that although she has caused you all terrible problems you still have some affection for her? I say that because I feel you are trying to find a reason and rationalise why she is like she is? I have the luxury of not giving a toss about my partner’s kid and just pleased I never have to set eyes on him ever again. The only problem I have is knowing other people out there will suffer because of him.


#9042 - 01/18/10 06:39 AM Re: RAD or Fledgling Psychopaths? [Re: ]

Hi RAD grad

Thanks for those links, there were some very interesting findings. I can see what you are saying now about PTSD. What I can't fit into the equation is psychopaths do not have a startle response like the rest of us. They have a total lack of anxiety and fear, I consider fear the same as anxiety as explained to me by a psychologist. They also don't process negative stimuli as anything bad. There is research on psychopaths tested for their responses to fearful, nasty and neutral stimuli and there wasn't a negative response to the things you would normally withdraw from. They just don't care.

One part of the research I found quite disturbing, if you read the following link then the piece afterwards you will see what I mean. This person does not seem to use a specific diagnosis and applies therapy regardless of disorder.

In other work, Martha Welch, MD, of Columbia University 's division of neuroscience, found that reintroducing nurturing—specifically touch—to children with behavioral problems reduced their severe behavioral symptoms.
A test group of 102 children, ages 5-18, with severe behavioral symptoms, such as defiance, aggression, cruelty, impulsivity, poor motivation, withdrawal, and inability to receive comfort or to be reciprocal, were treated with their families in two consecutive eight-hour days of facilitated Prolonged Parent-Child Embrace (PPCE) therapy, with family PPCE continuing at home.
“PPCE therapy leads to a positive physiological change in the child when parent and child resolve conflicts and reach a state of synchronous attunement,” Welch says. “In PPCE, the child learns to give and receive comfort and to modulate his or her own symptomatic behavior.”
Behavioral problems of children in the test group were reduced over a one-year period by more than 50 percent. Welch has been using the therapy since the 1970s.
Welch and her colleagues theorize that the behavioral improvements seen with PPCE therapy result from the stimulation of brain–body pathways that control and condition stress responses. “I believe that basic neurobiological mechanisms associated with early maternal-infant interaction play a critical role in a wide range of developmental disorders,” Welch says. The mechanism includes at least two peptides associated with maternal nurturing, secretin and oxytocin, which Welch is currently investigating. These peptides work in the brain and body to influence behavior and stress hormone output.
Welch's laboratory hopes to develop treatments that mimic the actions and interactions of these neuropeptides on the body and brain to reverse behavioral and developmental disorders. This work challenges a widespread assumption that severe behavioral disorders, especially among adolescents, are chronic and incurable.
“I believe that these disorders can be improved or even reversed by the body's natural peptide systems, through family therapy that restores effective maternal nurturing and/or through combined peptide therapy that enhances the mechanisms of maternal nurturing,” Welch says.

Here is the piece about prof Rutter

I will look forward to any more research you can post.


#9053 - 01/19/10 04:34 PM Re: RAD or Fledgling Psychopaths? [Re: ]
RADgrad Offline

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 15
Jan, I got a chuckle out of you asking the pros whether they have ever LIVED with a psychopath. And I howled at the psychologist suggesting positive rewards and praise!! I am still stunned at those who deny the existence of a child psychopath. We jail children all the time, where we treat them like animals and call them criminals, and sometimes we even convict young children in adult court - so we have laws that support treating a child as a criminal adult, but cannot dare observe that this same child might be a psychopath...?

You state that you believe psychopaths are born that way from their genetic make-up. There are many paths to becoming a psychopath, I am sure, and one path my well be genetic. I believe there are also other avenues leading to the disorder. There are still controversies raging over whether autism is genetic or environmental - or maybe certain weak genetics cause us to be more easily compromised by environmental upsets.

If my adopted daughter's reaction to her natural mother were to instantly reject her, as was true your your partner's son to his own mother, I would not know. But I am guessing that my adopted daughter was deeply attached to her own mother, if involuntarily, knowing her mother by scent and heartbeat, and in severe shock when she was abandoned at the age of 3 weeks, due (we presume) to the mother's poverty. As with your partner's son, my daughter subsequently lived a life of privilege with us. There are so many characteristics your partner's child and mine had/have in common, including fearlessness - at a very young age, she loved really frightening amusement park rides. If she got badly hurt, she did not cry or even yelp in pain. She was indescriminately affectionate as a child, favoring strangers and affectionate adults among our friends, wanting very little to do with other children. When she came to us from an orphanage, she never looked back, didn't look at all confused or displaced, although she was a toddler, and well-aware that there had been a big change in her life.

You write this sentence: "It is not the sort of reaction you get from a child and it’s like being psychopathic is a very adult thing to be." Well said. My observation was that these children are child-like in body only, but your wording is better. These kids are very calculating, with triangulation skills indicating sophistication well beyond their years. Yet they do not grasp the concept of Family. My daughter understood Family to be some kind of people-formula living in separate households - each house seemed to have adult caregivers and children (the same formula that dictates that an inanimate house has a living room and a bathroom) that lived together for some reason that was otherwise inexplicable to her. She truly felt that she should be free to meld in with these other families and into the rooms of their houses at will, and later dump them to go onto another family/house whenever she so chose. Her understanding of family did not progress, and remained static from her toddler years to her teens, which is when we last saw her. It is my understanding that she has finally succeeded in melding herself into another family, but in this new family she is permitted to have sex with one of the sons, something we did not permit, much as she tried.

You mention the RAD checklist not being as widely spread in the UK as in the US. It's not really that widely spread here, either, except over the internet. If not for the internet, I would never have even heard of RAD, probably to this day. What is so remarkable about the checklist is that the characteristics really do universally describe our children, as if these kids are somehow clones of eachother.

Popular thinking is that general neglect causes RAD. What we don't understand is that severe neglect is one of the most excrutiating traumas a helpless child can experience, and must be to the level of abandonment by, or death of, the natural mother. I contend that the lack of opportunity to bond is too casual a way to describe the profound withholding of nurturing attachment by the natural mother. By the same token, lesser neglect does not cause RAD. RAD chidren are not brain-damaged due to general neglect; they are brain damaged due to severe and protracted shock of loss. We make a BIG mistake in thinking that these children can be passed off to different caretakers like a puppy or a kitten, and the damage may still not be averted even when we pass the child immediately into the care of a single, nurturing caregiver - the loss is that massive. Mother is all a newborn child knows.

You ask me to describe my reasons for distinguishing between pre-verbal and post-verbal trauma. The human brain grows, unlike the brain of other species. Stress-caused toxic brain damage to a pre-verbal human brain may cause irrepairable damage to the growing cortex and growing cerebellum, both thought to be brain centers for managing the concepts of consequence and conscience. When their growth is stunted by brain damage, it is a permanent condition to them, meaning they can never be developed. A post-verbal brain's cortex and cerebellum have developed to their full sizes, so any subsequent damage may damage areas of the brain, but not stunt the growth. This stunting cannot be reversed/repaired!! - the opportunity for growth is only during the pre-verbal years. Complete brain wiring is largely completed by the age of 10, and after than is no longer as plastic as the brain of a younger child. This does not mean that we stop developing our thinking and learning after the age of 10 (or so I hope!!), and the brain is not fully physically completed until we are 18 or so.

Rutter addresses the resilience of children for overcoming terrible circumstances. I agree. I believe that children should not automatically be removed from abusing/neglectful households, because studies prove that children of abusive/neglectful families actually fair BETTER if they remain with their natural families, than if they are moved into protective care. By trying to punish abusive or neglectful parents by removing their children, we ultimately punish the children instead, with all the best of intentions. The children who remain in their abusive homes are less prone to becoming psychopaths than are the "lucky" children who are removed for their own protections. Popular belief is that the foster/adopt homes are even more abusive than the natural homes fromwhich the children were removed - but I contend that the removed children have already been rendered psychopaths simply by their traumatic removals, and that they are abused by foster and adopt parents who simply cannot figure out how to live with a psychopath. Likewise, foster/adopt children who are psychopaths will prey upon the foster/adopt children who are not psychopaths. It is my believe that the US is a breeding ground for psychopaths, because we remove children at the drop of a hat.

Child removal is not a guarantee of toxic brain damage, but it is indeed an invitation for it. The same is true of soldiers who witness deaths and war crimes; not all soldiers suffer from subsequent PTSD (which is the result of stress-caused toxic brain damage), but it should come as no surprise that many do succumb, and no surprise that those who do suffer become dysfunctional. Your son's incubation as a newborn was not a guarantee for attachment issues, but his separation from you was a risky protocol, which is no longer practiced in US hospitals -- unless of course a social worker decides that a child must be severed from its family.

You write that psychopaths have a choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing. A RAD psychopath doesn't have this ability; with an atrophied and undersized cortex and cerebellum, which are brain centers for consequence and conscience, they do not develop either ability. RADs are very, very dangerous people. It seems they are more prone to making life dangerous because it is by our frightened or angry reactions that they get the sensations they crave, when they feel nothing else. If we were to become enraged everytime they made their beds or took a bath, they would probably do both. There is no such thing as being "just RAD," because true RAD is a psychopathy. Clinicians dangerously misunderstand and underestimate true RAD (which must be comorbid with pre-verbal PTSD or C-PTSD).

You write, "Wouldn’t it be good if we could find a physical scar or mark that would identify these disorders? By exposing behaviours like some of the bizarre things they do we may find some common denominators to add the Dr Hare’s checklist." This is precisely my odd dream, but I face huge adversity. My views are unpopular, to say the least.

As for my daughter, I have no feelings whatsoever for her, other than fear. While she was living with us, I believe I grew to loathe her and feel substantial anxiety, but with her absence those feelings have abated. I am not seeking answers that might repair our relationship, but rather to warn others.

Best regards,

#9055 - 01/19/10 05:34 PM Re: RAD or Fledgling Psychopaths? [Re: RADgrad]
RADgrad Offline

Registered: 01/15/10
Posts: 15
Greetings, Jan.

Why indeed do psychopaths not have a startle response?? RAD psychopaths freeze in place, which is the closest I saw to a startle, but freezing is closer to what animal prey does when a predator is in the vicinity, since movement attracts attention. Why would my human daughter, placed 2 feet in front of me, instinctively freeze for long minutes at a time, when even the most simple-minded human would know I could clearly see her, and when she knew I was speaking directly to her? Over all the years that she was with us, even as a teenager, she did the same freeze.

At around 3 years old, my daughter sat on a pony that was supposed to be led slowly around the ring, but it took off with her bouncing precariously on it (this same pony did not run off with any other child, all day long), but she managed to hang on to the saddle with her hands, using strengh I did not know any 3 year old possessed. I was horrified that this had happened, and plenty miffed at the pony handlers, but since my daughter seemed so calm, I decided to not make a big deal out of it. Several minutes later, she indicated that she wanted to ride again, which stunned me. She LIKED the fear. Often I imagined she had a death wish. This time, the pony was kept in complete control around the ring. After that calm pony walk, she did not ask to ride again.

As far as negative stimuli, I am even remembering some of the things my daughter ate, that no other well-fed toddler would have bothered with. She ate everything in sight as a toddler. One day she decided to bite into a raw onion. Instead of grimacing, she kept eating it like an apple. She would help herself to the dry catfood at random times. She did not seem to be bothered by some very unlikable stimuli of all sorts, and was oddly drawn to it.

I could not agree with you more on the Holding Therapy bit. There are no scientific studies validating Holding as a "cure" for children suffering from abnormal psychoses. I suppose I practiced "attachment parenting" with my children, and I agree with normal children that touching and embracing is necessary. Holding is not the answer to everything, and can even be really disturbing. I refused attachment/holding therapy for my daughter and me.

I look forward to reading the Rutter article you have provided.

Best regards,

#9057 - 01/20/10 07:53 AM Re: RAD or Fledgling Psychopaths? [Re: RADgrad]

Hi Sue

It really annoys me when the ‘pros; advise us what to do….as though we haven’t tried everything we can think of and getting ever more creative in the process. They can’t seem to grasp NOTHING works! Some things may appear to work but when you use that tactic the next time it fails miserably so gets dropped from the agenda.
The kids can see what we are doing so play games with us and let us think we have made progress only to sabotage it when they decide to.
One of the pros did say tongue in cheek that he was coming to the conclusion that if you gave a psychopath everything he wanted as he wanted it then maybe he would be less criminal and not cause others problems. I can see what he was saying and maybe it would work but there are no systems that could or would deal with that sort of creative thinking even if the initial cost outweighed the cost of keeping someone in jail.

I think there are three camps among the professionals, those who know there are child psychopaths and don’t admit it and those who know and are prepared to say it. Then there is group who don’t seem to know or even want to address the issue.
The ones who know and don’t want to say are then sub-divided according to what they want people to know and think. Firstly I feel they are concerned what people will say about them or who are afraid of ‘diagnosing’ a kid with an incurable disorder. It has been said that some kids can change as they grow up and their version of ASPD is more to do with their social circumstances so the fear of stigmatising this group would not allow them to come out of the other side. As psychopathy has no cure, what would society do with a kid diagnosed as such from a very young age? How would they be treated by the rest of society, especially if the diagnosis was made before any crimes were committed? What future chance of employment would they have? What about mis-diagnosis, who would be prepared to give a non-criminal child what is virtually a ‘death’ sentence?

Again there is no system to deal with these issues. Not until we can get a very accurate diagnosis of psychopathy will anything be considered for change. As I have said many times the name doesn’t help, if it was named something like ‘dysempathy’ it may sound more like a diagnosis of an illness and more acceptable to all and even sounds like a syndrome and something that can be worked with.

I really appreciate hearing your views and although we have some divergent views I like to hear all the information you have gathered. I’m always open to changing my views if I see and hear enough to persuade me to change my thinking. I’m no professional so I may well be wrong with my assumptions so I want to explore your ideas as well. When you say you think there are more routes to psychopathy than it just being genetic, which is one of those chicken and egg situations, and it may apply when a child has that stress overload you refer to. For instance, what if a child is genetically predisposed to becoming a psychopath and they do not get that stress overload that flicks the switch? That seems to agree with what a lot of the professionals say when they are applying the nature/nurture debate. Would that switch be flicked at some point in the potential psychopath’s life?

I suppose we have to narrow better diagnostic criteria before anything will progress. It always seems odd to me that the cut off score in the US to be diagnosed psychopathic is 30. What about a 29 score, what if they were assessed on a ‘good day’? I understand it’s a spectrum disorder so see the rationale of scoring but I don’t think it’s adequate. I agree with you totally about child criminals being incarcerated like adults so they are treated as responsible for their crimes. One thing that does disturb me is kids like to ones who murdered James Bulger here in the UK serve a sentence then given new identities for their safety but what provision has been made to assess their progress through life. I have heard that one of them is now living in the North of England with a wife/partner and their baby and she does not know who he is.
Was he psychopathic when he committed the crime? If so has he been ‘cured’?
Is it one of those situations where the child has ‘grown out of it’ therefore not really a psychopath, maybe he would have been a 29.5 on the checklist scoring system.

Speaking about your daughter, you say she was taken away from her mother because of poverty, have you ever investigated malnutrition in utero causing brain development? I believe gene or more precisely gene function can be altered by environmental situations? So is it vulnerable genes affected by environment or the other way round environment causing normal genetic function to fail?

So many questions and I don’t foresee getting any answers soon. I can see what you mean about pre and post verbal damage. I have some MRI study research so I’ll go back and have another look at that as it sounds like what you have explained. Have you got any brain studies using scans etc? I have another written by Kent Kheil (I think that’s the spelling) so if you haven’t got that let me know although I’m sure I posted in the resource section a while back. I have also read about people literally losing half their entire brain and the other part learns to take over so is it not possible that the children who do improve even though they are known to have attachment disorder are able to do this?

I keep coming back to kid’s like my partner’s who was never put through any trauma and turned out as he did then you hear of other people who have been through horrors beyond belief and turn out to be caring people. There are a people on this forum who have said this from their personal experience so is it because the brain was just primed to receive the toxic stress because of genes? Would the stress and damage have been more or less than if these children had been taken away from severely abusive parents?
One of the professionals I do trust says that a lot of it is to do with the gene pool. That makes sense to me too and that goes back to the ‘highly heritable’ debate which is slightly different to ‘inherited’.

I notice you refer to RAD psychopathy, that is very interesting. Would I be right if I took that to mean that you are saying there is one particular group of children who only become psychopaths because of this severe toxic shock of separation? If so, that could be the case, I wish I knew more and it certainly sounds like a great hypothesis to research.
I think that says a lot that we are lumping all psychopaths together under one umbrella and we need to look at the various pathways.
Debating this issues seems to bring our different perspectives closer together rather than further apart.

That was one of the thing that made me feel bad about myself initially, that I could loathe a child. I felt evil, guilty and immature. I could not like let alone love that kid and it was huge sense of relief when I allowed myself to admit how I really felt; At that point I at least felt honest.

I know what you mean about the freezing when caught out. The kid did that often and would just blankly stare and after a while snap out of it then deny doing what he was doing. I presumed the frozen delay was the time taken to come up with a denial that may sound plausible, not that they ever die. It would turn into a lying fest, each one compounding the next.

Amusing you should mention horse riding, the kid told us ne had been riding when he stayed with his uncle and really enjoyed it so we offered to pay for lessons for a birthday present as we had stables a few yards from where we lived. He refused to go and get the information so I don’t believe he rode at all and if he did he wasn’t as keen as he made out. I can’t believe he would ever approach a horse as he was terrified of the neighbours soft cat!

He would eat everything and anything he could get his hands on, with or without permission. He would eat unusual things for a 9 year old, like olives and I wondered whether he was just showing off. He was fussy in that he would pick over every piece of fruit in the bowl to make sure he got the best pieces, take one bite and throw it away. Dinner served at the table would be the same, he would be first there picking the best, taking loads then leaving it and throwing it away. He ended eating on his own. He would also have his own food then hang on his father’s chair saying things like “is your dinner nice, are you going to leave me some? I’m still hungry. “(after putting his in the bin)
There was no way he would ever go hungry, he would not let that happen. He just wanted everything anyone else had. He would go to the neighbours saying we wouldn’t allow him food! At first they thought my partner was a terrible parent until I came along and I told them the truth, they had been stung for meals and any other food on offer.
These are the things that would never crop up in a clinical assessment setting even though they are good examples of manipulation.

I would love to hear more about your life story with your daughter, What age was she when you first saw her and did she come to live with you straight away or was there a slow process to get to that point? What were the first things you noticed that made you uneasy and your reactions?

I also have some new research on autism and genes so I’ll search that out and post it next time and would appreciate any that you have.

At last I have found someone who is prepared for open debate and discussion. There is so much more to learn and the saying is true, that the more you learn the more you realise you don’t know.


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