I am fairly sure my son is a borderline psychopath

Posted by: nonam

I am fairly sure my son is a borderline psychopath - 09/25/17 04:57 AM


The son in question will soon be 20. He is my oldest, and he has 2 wonderfully empathetic siblings who are teens now. So good are they, in fact, that though they recognize his many faults, they still love him and defend him to me. Little do they realize how much he has scarred them and our family as a whole.

Ours is not a situation with a "broken" home, single parenthood or psychopathic parent, though my father - who did not raise me and died when my son M was very young - may have been one. My husband thinks our son may have inherited some of his personality traits. Either way, M was always something of a challenge to raise, even as a young child - tough temperament, always tried to get away with mischief, never looking you in the eye when he apologized. Both my husband and I always had a sense he rarely if ever felt true remorse - he always said "sorry" just to avoid being punished or losing treats. By age 6 or so he refused almost all affectionate touch from us, though he will respect, hug and kiss his grandparents and can be quite charming to them and others when he wishes. When he was about 10, he beat up a babysitter, luckily he wasn't strong enough at the time to do any major damage. To this day he refuses to admit he did anything wrong - "She was asking for it". He would also get his younger siblings to do his bidding in return for a promise of "points" - though never delivered on any concrete reward. We put an abrupt stop to this manipulative system when we found out about it.

In school, though very bright, he always underperformed; he was diagnosed as having ADHD as a tween, though stimulant medicines and even anti-psychotics for his oppositional behavior did very little to help him. Therapy was of no use, and he simply managed to pull the wool over his therapists' eyes, causing them to blame our parenting (which somehow managed to produce 2 other perfectly healthy and well-adjusted children, mind you). His junior high school and high school career was marked by bullying, then we moved him to a smaller school where he seemed to do better socially, but ran with a bad crowd. He tends to choose friends with a chaotic home life and very loose supervision. He abused alcohol, was truant from school more times than I can count, and engaged in petty theivery around the house. I suspect he has done worse, but was/is sneaky enough not to get caught by law enforcement (that we know of). I wish I had listened to my better judgement and sent him to boarding school, but he threatened to drop out entirely if we did this.

I was, and still am, the brunt of his manipulations, and to a lesser extent, his younger siblings. The worst offenses happen when my husband is out of the house. He takes pleasure in doing things he knows will annoy and frighten me, such as making fun of acquaintance's names at random, taking knives out of kitchen drawers and playing with them, or pointing his finger at me like a gun and making shooting noises (he has never been physically violent, just threatening). He and his siblings have had numerous pets over the years and he he has treated them all with more kindness than he ever has his human family members, but he will pick up his sister's rabbit and whisper loudly into the rabbit's ear, "I think you'll make a lovely stew". While his sister just rolls her eyes, I still think this is not normal sibling behavior, especially when not balanced by regular compassion.

When M was about 18, he found an "Are you a psychopath?" quiz based upon the Hare questionnaire. He told me his score was 28/40, and he didn't seem at all concerend about this - in fact, he was quite amused.

This past week I am quite sure he tried to gaslight me. I came downstairs to find him rummaging through the kitchen cupboards and fridge in search of cookies we'd eaten for dessert earlier. He asked me where the cookies were, and I told him I didn't know, but he could ask his father, who'd put them away earlier. after he'd rummaged some more, I asked him to stop, and reiterated that if he wanted the cookies, he could simply ask his father where they were. But no, now he was rummaging through the kitchen not to find the brownies per se, but "for the fun of the search", which I was ruining by asking him to stop. When I insisted, he told me I had given him no "logical reason" to do so, and I was "paranoid" about this being a power struggle, which he claimed it wasn't, and should "get treatment". Maybe it's just me, but I would think it not too unreasonable to ask someone to stop searching through *my* kitchen in search of cookies, or fun, after you've done it 3 times and could simply ask someone who knew where they were! Silly, paranoid me, eh?

Luckily, since M graduated high school (though he has not yet matriculated), he's away from home most fo the time in an educational program, and I'm not quite sure our parental relationship with him will survive, at least not mine. Honestly, I'm always much relieved to see the back of him, even though he is my flesh and blood. I doubt he will ever change.
Posted by: DadofRad

Re: I am fairly sure my son is a borderline psychopath - 09/29/17 08:07 PM

Your last line, I doubt he will ever change hit me. Although I believe in redemption and have seen changed lives, I now also see that personality is pretty well as is, especially when it comes to a Anti-social personality disorder (psychopath). Your story has many similarities to mine, your son was less severe than mine is, but many of the same actions. Some differences to note: my son does look a person in the eye. In fact, many have written here of the haunting eyes of the psychopath. They just kind of stare blankly and penetrating at times. I think diverting eyes is usually a sign of insecurity or shame, but a psychopath knows no shame. Perhaps there are other reasons he does not have eye contact. Cruelty to animals is common for a psycho. They may play like they are compassionate and care for the animal, but it's like a show. When they are left alone with the animal though they either show no interest or torture it. I know one dad who's kid took the family dog and posted pictures on Facebook of him strangling the dog. The dog did not die but was severely injured. Also, ours could be affectionate, he frequently says I love you and hugs goodbye, but I now see those attempts as manipulative. I think he learned that type of affection from me and then used it to manipulate people. When you mentioned the lack of affection it made me think of RAD symptoms. Have you investigated that diagnosis? Those are the three examples that don't stand out as psychopath, but that doesn't mean he is not. There could be other reasons to explain the differences, for example if your family was not affectionate to begin with he may have just learned that pattern. Remember that they are always trying to learn how to be normal to manipulate others. BTW, I'm not a psycho, but I still joke at the petstore that the rabbits names are Lunch and Dinner (I come from a farming background growing up, and rabbit is good to eat).

Tormenting the children and mother especially when the Dad was at work was also common for us. Even the part about being proud in a sense that he is a psychopath sounds like one. Everything else sounds very family to me, and lucky for you it was less severe than mine. Now that he is grown, I agree that distancing yourself is probably the best. There really is no relationship with a psycho, but a give and take where you give and he takes. My conscience makes me feel like I need to continue that pattern, but it really does no good for me and just reinforces to him that he can keep manipulating us to get what he wants. Until he is 18, the courts will require me to keep playing the game. Please search for all my posts to see a history of mine. Also, my posts of Adopted child and RAD has most of the story.
Questions: What does your husband think about this? Has your son ever been violent? How about fits of rage? How is he manipulative? Does he appear normal to outsiders? Have you had to medicate him? Does he see a doctor or therapist, what do they think?
Posted by: nonam

Re: I am fairly sure my son is a borderline psychopath - 10/09/17 07:19 AM

My son has had pets of his own in the past and has always treated them with kindness - far better than he treats people, in fact. He even seems to like his sister's rabbit, despite his supposed wisecracks. I don't think he mistreats animals.

Our family is quite affectionate, and as I said, I have two other children who have never hesitated to say they love us and are very affectionate, so it's obviously not a family behavior pattern. My eldest has never said "I love you" unprompted, not even as a small child.

My husband agrees with my assessment. His teachers have tended to take a "better you than me" tack over the years. Apparently he was truant far more than he or his teachers let on at the time, and that suited them quite well. However, he's pulled the wool over most therapists' eyes, and some have even resorted to parent-blaming, unfortunately. I even had to undergo therapy *myself* to let go of the guilt that I somehow made him what he is. One psychiatrist suggested "explosive child syndrome" or something similar and we medicated him with Ritalin (he does have ADHD) and Risperidone, to little effect.

RAD? I'm trying to wrap my head around how a child who was not mistreated or adopted from a mistreating family would be at risk for that.
Posted by: DadofRad

Re: I am fairly sure my son is a borderline psychopath - 10/09/17 07:32 PM

I've been there with many counselors too, blaming the parents first and examining the child later. It's really hard for some to get past the book teachings of a blank slate and these kids come from bad backgrounds is what makes them bad. I really liked the movie "the bad seed" from the 50s. It was the first to really question this notion and suggest genetic background for psychopath. Of course today, I think they do see it is a mental organic issue now, but getting a counselor to see he is a psychopath is hard, especially when he has "mostly" normal behavior on the outside. I'm glad you have the support of your husband and you are very fortunate that he is an adult now and you can be done with him as long he doesn't come back to you for support. Not every psycho will have every symptom, and I'm sure even among this personality disorder, there are different shades of the personality.

Mine has been running away still and made it back to our house twice. It's been very jarring. Once he showed up on Saturday when I was home and once on the following Friday when it was just my wife and children. On the first, he was compliant with me taking him back to the shelter, but he was extremely stinky and he confessed to having hallucinations on the way. Basically he traveled about 15 miles by foot and bus to our house that he had not been to in 2 years. On the second we called the cops and was going to have him returned by them, but my brother in law came by and suckered into taking him back. Of course he knew just what to say to my brother in law to pull his heart strings and get him to believe that he sincerely just wants to come home, missed us, and just want to be part of the family again. In the meantime, he also told the police that he had broken into a car to steal some cell phones and the owner stopped him and began beating him up. Other police came by and asked my son if he wanted to press charges against the man. There is no record of this incident from what I know of, but it has been impossible for me to get police records for him. I think for minors, they just warn the child take him home and never file anything. No consequences. He also told us that he was watching our house and my brother in laws house, noticing when we wake up. This was very scary, especially for my wife. I purchased a security system this weekend (I used Arlo). Now I can at least know when he comes to the door, backyard, have records that I can retrieve anywhere and speak to the intruder through the camera. He has been approved for another therapeutic institution, so we just have to wait for that to open up and hopefully he will be sent far away where we don't have to worry about him stalking us for a few months.