Skip to comments.Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath?
Posted on 05/13/2012 12:12:29 PM PDT by KantianBurke
One day last summer, Anne and her husband, Miguel, took their 9-year-old son, Michael, to a Florida elementary school for the first day of what the family chose to call summer camp. For years, Anne and Miguel have struggled to understand their eldest son, an elegant boy with high-planed cheeks, wide eyes and curly light brown hair, whose periodic rages alternate with moments of chilly detachment. Michaels eight-week program was, in reality, a highly structured psychological study less summer camp than camp of last resort.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
I explained it. Latin sometimes hints that a line of thought is very, very old and well established. But I explained it in English. There is no syllogism and no conclusion. Only your trumpeting of your personal gut judgment with scarcely any evidence to base it upon.
I for one, did read the article. While the writer claimed the parents were strict—and had followed every kind of advice and book they could get their hands on—nowhere did it indicate that Michael had consistently received serious consequences for his terrible behavior. Spankings to the NYT kind of writer/editor are OF COURSE off limits.
Christian scripture though, says it shouldn’t be. Angry abusive spankings/beatings are usually confused by modern liberals with normal parental discipline, which should never be done in anger. So they do neither, and permissiveness reigns, which is really awful for a willful child.
Kid’s at 1.5 years old will start to test boundries and pull mommy’s chain, as much as possible...depending on the personality of the child. If the terribly violent tantrums brought nothing but pain (spankings) or other thoughtful punishments appropriate to the crime...(and NOT attention—catering-to & doting, which is usually what they’re wanting) then kids learn that its not worth it.
It sounds as if this yuppie couple did just the opposite, doting on and trying to molify the angry child—so he just kept it up (as that’s what he wanted...). When they started out of weariness to not dote—he just upped the volume and time...until they did, again and again and again. The article sounds like the parents’ lack of consistent serious consequences (discipline) really were part of the problem.
The kid’s seeming planned creepiness, and coolly proclaimed hatred for his brother...also make me wonder at what kind of religious ethics the parents have too—as no child should be allowed to express and hold that kind of rank evil attitude, even at age 9. A typical college educated morally-pluralistic couple though, may think otherwise....
SIGH. This boy’s conduct does not evince your typical “spoiled child of liberals.” It goes well into the region of abnormal psychology. Way way off the bell curve. Even the gospels would have referred to such conduct as either crazy or possessed. Not as poor moral training.
Let's see, the older brother screams and yells...and brandishes a chair over his head, threatening his brother, WITH NO NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES???
Then after being over the top angry for an HOUR (!!!), calms down, and threatens his brother openly in front of his father (whom he clearly doesn't respect...)?
Sounds like years of neglect of discipline (including spankings) to me...
One, it's not an uncommon term that educated shouldn't be expected to recognize. Two, he gave a parenthetical explanation along with the term.
The calm I hate him and other creepy behavior made me suspect not merely lack of discipline (i.e. spankings) is at work here, but possibly the occult.
Maybe I'm alone here, but I find the sheer number of replies that reference the occult as a possible explanation to be far scarier than I found the account of Michael.
I don’t know Lyman, but I do know positive reinforcement and behaviorism. It works, but can be destructive if misused. You’re right, I don’t have all the information and perhaps the writer is skewing the story and misreporting (I’ve heard that some liberals even lie in print).
That said what’s happened here sounds like this couple had a challenging child, like many others have had. The dad is passive, the mom’s aggressve, they both use game playing and reinforcement to bring out the worst in Michael. They’ve had plenty of opportunity to redirect him and praise him for being good. Instead they’ve got a drama going on.
Read again how the dad reacts to the littlest child messing with Michael’s game. The little kid deserves to be stopped and redirected. The dad should respect Michael’s game, which was paused so he could continue playing. Instead you get what sounds like a daytime drama directed by the dad. Michael’s simply acting accordingly to the inputs of his environment. He’s being created through reinforcement.
Now I’m not saying that Michael isn’t on the spectrum. What I’m saying is that his parents could act in such a way as to reduce his tendencies to extinction. Worse, the “experts” are ruining the dozen children in their “experiment” by mixing negative and positive reinforcement. The negative reinforcement is amplified for normal people and is known to be ineffective. In callous-unemotional children it is like catnip. You get more, not less of the abnormal condition.
So here’s this kid, my heart goes out to him, where every adult in his life is failing him.
If only there were a simple way to display standard deviations as bar graphs, you could probably get through to the wall of ignorance that just seems to think Michael needed more spankings or more/better religious instruction. Two standard deviations outside the norm is clinically incredible.
Either way, you’re probably wasting your time. I gave up yesterday.
Yes I did assume Michael is manipulative, since the article did indicate that he could switch his emotions on or off...but that wasn’t begging, as that wasn’t my question.
I asked (and continue to ask this) was Michael spanked/disciplined appropriately when he first started to misbehave? Has there been any consistent approach to discipline? Or just the chaotic non-approach described in the article?
The article doesn’t say (since, as I said, it is quite safe to assume to the NYTimes, any spanking is child abuse...), it does indicate a lenient father and “strict” mother who aren’t on the same page on how to approach the problem.
Any child who can physically threaten a sibling, and defy and disrespect his father...with no negative consequences...will behave badly—and worse again, (and again, and again) especially if that’s the pattern for years.
Well first off, when talking about the library that had been amassed by the parents I thought they listed a title or two from Dr. James Dobson, who is not shy about spanking.
Second off, you are assuming it’s a willful choice by the son. Not a state of mind that goes and comes with little or no consent on his part. I will say it in pure English this time: you are begging the question.
There is always the wild card of the news reportage itself, which can tell us black was white and we never would know because we weren’t there and had nobody else to verify it for us.
But it sounds like they’ve looked at some Dr. James Dobson works. That ought to take care of the “oh, they never looked at spanking” angle if nothing else does.
Anyhow if the boy’s actions are so wild he literally wounds his own self, even the bible recognizes such conduct as beyond mere human moral failure. Jesus delivered several such persons from either real or figurative demons.
Ah yes, all of us benighted ignorant conservative Christian rubes, who don't use Latin, or the jargon appropriate only to logic and statistics classes...
What could we possibly know about kids?
Much better to trust the NYTimes!
Why would they list a Dobson work? Surely he’s the authoritarian devil to them. They (fortunately for our knowledge) didn’t check the author and censor it.
Also, the standard disciplinarian rules of a normal Christian household assume a child who is not already a nut.
How did the gospel deal with the situation of the boy who wandered among the gravestones cutting himself on sharp rocks and hurled himself in the fire? Did Jesus come along saying why didn’t you whip him when it counted? The demon is rebuked, it flees and the boy comes back... NORMAL.
And, for my own peace of mind I think I will stop following this thread. But if what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the living Savior did, does not move you to tears at the combined majesty and mercy of God... I don’t know what will.
Friend, I listed occult problems and even baptism above bad parenting in the list where you promptly responded with a put-down using Latin and jargon.
Indeed, it well could be a problem of demonic possession—or certainly demonic influence, which is why I brought it up. While insanity isn’t always caused by occult powers, occult powers do bring insanity.
It still sounds as if the parents are very inconsistent in their approach—and lack any standard for applying appropriate discipline for the child’s bad behavior. Reading Dobson’s “Dare to Discipline” is different than actually applying it.
Disciplining adults for irrational & bad (non-criminal) behavior isn’t appropriate—counseling—or exorcism....is. Disciplining your own kids though, appropriately, is commanded.
And yes, I do love and appreciate Jesus and His compassionate approach, to all of us. Why would you assume otherwise?
Ok, I won't point out the Latin name for the argument above (although I can), as fallacious as it may be. However, it was a clinician who stated that the child was two standard deviations removed from normal on the CU chart, not the NYT. Attempting to attribute it to the NYT on a website where the publication is held in low regard, was a nice effort though. Unless of course it is your serious contention that the NYT has incorrectly represented the diagnostician in question?
Actually your post represents why I do so hate these arguments on FR. They (the arguments) get more emotional as they go along, and don't pretend for a moment that your comments like "benighted ignorant conservative Christian rubes" are anything other than evocative.
I know this is a stretch for many, but it truly is possible to discuss something in depth, even in the presence of deep and passionate disagreement without getting defensive, sarcastic, dismissive or otherwise emotional.
Yes, giving the reporter the benefit of the doubt what I’m saying is that the parents and the “specialists” have been intervening in such a way as to make these kids worse off.
Punishment is ineffective in changing behavior. At the same time they’re literally training him to be worse through their dramatic actions. The therapists should be criminally liable as the literature on this is very clear.
Actually, given what I just wrote I’m even doubtful of the diagnosis. The whole thing is a tragedy and likely will be.
Wow, just found this article you posted and read it and read all the comments. It’s kind of timely for me as we have a child in the neighborhood that is/has been a problem. We were gone over the weekend, but when we got back to the neighborhood, my husband heard that one of the neighbor kids had gotten into trouble and that it was related to sex. Yesterday, I found out from the mom of one of the victims what it all involved and who was involved. The victims were the boy’s sister who is about 8 and this lady’s son who is only 5 years old. The boy that did it is almost a teen and has basically been a problem since he moved in at 4. His parents seem like decent people overall from the contact we have had with them, and the sister is a little sweetie, but the parents don’t know how to handle what seems to be an ever increasing bad situation. If you ask some of the neighbors, most would probably say that they could see something bad coming. Maybe not this type of thing, but something. A couple of years ago, he set a fire to his house and they had to move out for several months. Over the years, a lot of little destruction has happened. Stealing, deliberately breaking things, lying. The parents of this boy seems to be in denial or detached and each time something has happened over the years, they set him loose on the neighborhood again after a brief grounding. Grounding isn’t going to cut it this time. Anyway, the mother of the 5 year old rightfully reported it to the police and since the instigator is over 10, something is going to be done—I hope anyway. Personally, I would like to see him go away for good or at least a long time, but that is unlikely to happen. Like the mother of the 5 year old said, you have to wonder what has already been done to the little sister. I HOPE nothing else has happened to her, but he is unsupervised with her at various times. Anyway, I feel sadness for all parties involved.
That was un neccessarily hateful!
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