I work with kids. The boy was very charming and confident. Polite and well mannered. But I knew that he attempted to burn his sister and he liked to smear feces on the wall. He ran away a lot too. He attempted suicide and was hospitalized. I asked my supervisor what would become of a kid like that. She said he was a sociopath in the making. Generally you don’t label kids as such but his behaviors for a 10 year old were extreme. Sad case. Sad and horrifying.
I kind of had an idea before I even met the guy. The fact that he had been referred after slaughtering a family and made the parents watch as he executed their children as punishment for the father having lost a bag of heroin that he was supposed to pass on to someone else. The police suspected his involvement in several other slayings.
He had self-referred hoping that I would diagnose him as being unfit to stand trial. He turned out to be absolutely fascinating. He was absolutely guilty of everything he had been accused of and had been working as an enforcer for various drug cartels. During the interview, he tried to be very intimidating; he wasn’t at all concerned with trying to trick me into thinking that he might have been mentally ill, he thought it would be enough to simply threaten me, that he or someone else would ensure something horrible happened to my family or I if he ended up in jail.
Oddly enough, that opened the door to a discussion about where he learned to be so intimidating, about how it had been a very useful skill for him when he was growing up in an abusive family and surrounded by Maori tribal culture. He also had some insight into how this behaviour was affecting him and what it had cost him. He was only a young guy, in his early 20s, but he had killed maybe 6 children and 10 adults since he was 17. He’d never loved. He never had any real friends. And he was probably genuinely depressed under all that hostility. But most of all, he was afraid. He didn’t expect to survive jail, although most of his family were in various jails across the state.
In the end, that conversation about the cost of his intimidating behaviour was probably what helped him the most. He pleaded guilty in court. The prison’s own forensic psychiatrist later contacted me to say that that conversation had played a lot on his mind and that he was genuine about wanting to reform, to have a normal life. His lawyer, on the other hand, was an abusive bitch of a woman who was furious about his courtroom confession and blamed me for his crisis of conscious (and her not getting paid).
I work in a residential substance abuse program. I don’t take offense to most clients behaviors; they were in the midst of their addiction and they’re trying to get better for any number of motivators (self-referral, family, probation/parole mandated, etc.). I’ve worked with convicted murderers whom were remorseful and great to work with, so whatever, let’s do some work together. But I’ll speak of one person whom I believe to have Antisocial Personality Disorder:
After approximately 30 minutes talking to him during intake, I could tell how well he might be able to manipulate those he believes are “dumber” than him, and he stated as much. He mimicked my language, posture, he spoke eloquently, and was charismatic as all hell. But something was just off. I take note, and move on; needed more data. And as he continued in the program it became apparent. Everything was someone or something else’s fault. Failed relationships, his addiction and particular drugs of choice, his inability to hold jobs; no accountability or responsibility. He even blamed his brother for getting upset that he (my client) stabbed his brother. After my client had stolen his brother’s car in the dead of night and drove it in a ditch and abandoned it; then he lied about it and stabbed his brother for being “annoying”. He manipulated other clients and staff, and was damn good at it, except for a few of us who would call him out in group sessions or through behavioral contracts.
He was my individual client and during a session, I was challenging him because there were inconsistencies in something he shared. Then he finally came clean. He is HIV+ (I was aware of this). He contracted HIV by cheating on his partner or sharing a needle (he and the person he cheated with shared needles). He had discovered he was HIV+ prior to his partners return, as they were gone for an extended period of months. He got on treatment, and then… didn’t tell them at all. Still hadn’t at the time I stopped working with him, and I believe they are still together.
Additionally, he shared that he drugged this partner, whom had a family history of meth abuse and had never used as much as a joint, for his own sexual pleasure, multiple times, sober and high. The partner would have severe “anxiety attacks” after sex acts (which he convinced them they were) and they believed him. You could see his whole fucking body light up in relaying these acts. He laughed and stated that he couldn’t believe that they believed and trusted him. A complete disregard for others (this wasn’t the only thing he shared that made me want to hang a warning sign around the guy).
He completed treatment by going through the motions and is now out in the community. He is young. I have a strong feeling that at some point he will move to even more malicious acts, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he kills someone in the future.
4. A fascinating answer from an actual sociopath:
Not a therapist, but I was diagnosed with ASPD when I was a teenager. I still believe it was a poor diagnosis, and does my current therapist. I do share quite a few traits with the disorder, but I also have empathy, and can feel emotions. My current diagnosis is Schizoid or Schizoaffective, although I also have no outlandish beliefs or hallucinations. Baby me was adverse to touch, I never wanted to be held, and the touch aversion continues on today. As a child I was a huge bully until I just became a loner. I don’t know why, I remember gaining pleasure from hurting other kids, and then one day, I didn’t anymore. Teenage me entered high school as very manipulative, self-destructive and egocentric. I mostly alternated between feeling totally void of emotion, being frightened of that void, and trying to fill that void with pain, mine or others. As a teenager I was very intelligent (not that it did me any favors). I would argue with my high school teachers until I beat them into submission or they got mad enough with me that I felt I had “won”. Then I got to college and discovered the game of ego can’t be won with people who refuse to play. I didn’t realize that until I had thrown away my full ride scholarship, plus a few thousand dollars of my own money.
I think the major shift for me was having my daughter. It was a pure bond of love that I had honestly never felt before. I had felt love out of obligation, fear, and routine, and the emotion always felt hollow. I didn’t feel like it looked in the movies, which I think is what lead me to be so disassociated from the feeling. With my daughter it was different. I wanted to protect her, in a way I never had even thought of another human being before. Up until that point, if I had found out that every other person on the planet was actually a robot or a figment of my imagination, I would only have felt satisfaction that I was right. My daughter was the first person, who really felt like she was also a living human being like me.
Psych nurse here.
Patient I gained a lot of trust with told me about this person he and two others tortured almost to death. I knew the case because it made the news. He went to jail for it. Went in to details about the torture. It included making hundreds of cuts to the persons body and giving them an acidic bath.
Anyways, his story is that this person raped the neighbourhood girl with Down syndrome and it was a payback.
This guy was in our ward for about a month (continually threatening suicide if he was discharged). After weeks of knowing him and gaining some form of trust with me, he ended up admitting to me that he had made up the lie about the rape because he simply didn’t like this guy because of an argument (probably drug related) years back.
Tl;dr patient lied about a rape so he could convince his friends to abduct and torture a man that he had some petty disagreement.
Thing is he stood trial as a minor and threw his mates under the his, claiming they were the instigators and he simply went along with it. They are still in jail.
I’m a teacher, so sorry if this isn’t for me, but we do dissections in my class. One of my students is constantly in other people’s personal space. He also asks a lot of odd questions. He’s very concerned with the inner workings of bodies. What eventually got to me was that he wanted to rip all of the organs and our rats apart with his bare hands. Kind of gives me the creeps.
Edit: wrote this when I was about to head to bed. To clarify: his questions are things like:
-“So if a person got stabbed there would they bleed for a long time?”
-“Would that hurt a lot?”
-“Could a person live without that for a long time?”
Maybe you’d just have to hear the way he asks, but it always gives me the vibe he’s making a killroom and using me for pointers.
1. Long, but trust me when I say it’s worth the read:
I used to work in a group home for little kids, under 12, with severe behavior problems and psychiatric issues, as a floor staff while I was in college. Several of those kiddos had diagnoses of ASPD, but I was always skeptical because that’s a hell of a label to give to a little kid.
And then I met AP (not his real initials). This child was six years old, and beautiful. He was perfectly behaved, but many of our residents had a “honeymoon period” of great and normal behavior for a couple weeks after intake, so we were just waiting for him to show his true colors, behavior-wise. His honeymoon period lasted 8 months!! None of the staff knew why this kid was there. His dad wasn’t in the picture and mom was serving time, and foster care wasn’t working out, which is why we had him, but we didn’t have any issues with him at all during those 8 months. He was a perfect little boy.
Then one day, he wasn’t. I took the kids outside to ride bikes, and the second he was out the door, he ran to the backyard, grabbed a kitten, and crushed its head. The boys’ bedrooms were in the basement of the house, they had windows that were on the ground level outside, and he had seen the nest of kittens from his window. I was horrified, obviously, and brought all the kids inside. He calmly told our facilities manager that he had no idea what I was talking about, and looked so confused that the manager questioned me, and I had to go get the dead cat. I was visibly upset, and AP just looked at me and grinned.
That was the first “oh s**t” moment of several. AP would instigate aggressive behavior to initiate a restraint. Once in a restraint, our procedure was to hold the child for 30 minutes. If they weren’t calm at that point, the on-call nurse would give a “booty dart” (shot of benadryl) to calm the kid down. AP loved needles and offhandedly mentioned once that it was his goal to get one shot a day. In another incident, two staff had to escort AP into a secluded area because he was being very violent. During the transport, something happened (i think the metal door shut on him) and AP cut his foot substantially. We went to get the nurse, and when she came to help him he was laughing, digging at his cut to make it bleed more, and writing on the wall with the blood.
Most of our kiddos were wards of the state, but AP’s grandparents actually came and visited him. The other kids would be so jealous, but AP would (quite convincingly) act like he didn’t know his grandparents, and then later he would taunt the others who never had visitors. When I left that job, he gave me a picture he drew of me. It was a typical little kid picture, but there was an X over the mouth and the eyes were scribbled out. I asked him why he drew me that way, and he said “You don’t deserve eyes because I don’t like it when you see me. You don’t deserve a mouth because you say things I don’t like.” (Edit-found the picture.)
I still work with kids with severe behavior problems, psychiatric issues, and severe disabilities. I love them. I have worked with hundreds during my career. I STILL think about AP. Soon after I left, they transferred him (at 7 years old now) to a more restrictive environment, and the last I heard he was the facility’s success story. Mom got clean and he’s back home with her, a perfect angel, and he even comes back to the group home to give motivational talks to the other kids on how to behave! I truly hope that’s true and his treatment was successful……but that was one scary, scary little kid, and I doubt it.