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By September 10, 2015 7 Comments Read More →

Early warning sign that a baby could grow up to be a psychopath

adorable babyRecent research suggests that babies who prefer to look at a red ball, rather than a human face, may be at risk for developing callous-unemotional personality traits.

These traits, when seen in children, can precede the development of full-blown psychopathy.

Researchers at King’s College in London studied five-week old babies. They hypothesized that babies who paid more attention to an inanimate object, rather than a human face, would show higher callous-unemotional traits when they were two and a half years old.

The researchers were right.

Callous-unemotional

Psychologists who study the origins of antisocial behavior have noted that people who turned out to be psychopaths as adults often exhibited callous-unemotional (CU) traits as children. These traits include a lack of responsiveness to, or concern for, another person’s distress.

CU traits are often associated with offending and aggression.

The parenting that a child receives, as well as a child’s early environment, are known to influence the development of callous-unemotional traits.

Importance of eye contact

Children at risk for developing CU traits often do not make eye contact with parents or care givers.

As the researchers in this study noted, “Eye contact occurs during interaction with a parent or caregiver and forms a critical component of an infant’s early social communication, influencing the development of the social brain.”

In the first few months of life, the researchers noted, faces are processed by a particular part of an infant’s brain. This is thought to influence the development of the social brain network, which as the child grows, is responsible for recognizing and understanding social stimuli.

Failure to pay attention to a person’s eyes may be present early in the development of CU traits, leading to an inability to respond to another person’s distress.

Eventually, this could lead to the psychopath’s well-known lack of empathy and remorse.

Study results

Even after controlling for other conditions such as deprivation, the study found that when the five-week-old babies preferred looking at a ball, rather than a human face, it predicted higher callous-unemotional traits when the children were two and a half years old.

The study authors caution that these children have not been evaluated at a later age to see if they begin to exhibit antisocial behavior or other psychopathic traits.

But they suggest that this “relatively basic perceptual bias” may influence a child’s later ability to process social cues.

More information

Reduced face preference in infancy: a developmental precursor to callous-unemotional traits? on BiologicalPsychiatryJournal.com.

Can you tell if a baby will grow up to be a psychopath? on HuffingtonPost.com.

Thank you to the Lovefraud reader Jan7 for first posting on this topic.

 



7 Comments on "Early warning sign that a baby could grow up to be a psychopath"

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  1. victimcindy says:

    Interesting finding which reinforces the importance of breastfeeding. If there is a genetic disposition , mothering and parenting including nursing and baby wearing may help lessen the severity of the psychopathy later in life. The eye contact and developing the social brain network are benefits in all children and I would like to see study using these variables as well. It’s common sense that if the social brain and stimuli are enhanced by these practices for the general population then they prevent or lessen the degree of sociopathic behavior with a family history.



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  2. victimcindy says:

    Sadly, I didn’t not realize my first sons disconnect from eye contact and faces when he was a baby as I did not have a comparison. I did notice he was less connected than other babies and My friends same aged babies would melt into my eyes. The play group moms called him the “cool cat” He was cuddly an I held him a lot, nursed and wore him in a sling (attachment parenting). I did experience the stark contrast with.my second two children who were given the same type of mothering but we’re naturally making eye contact and watching me. Then I became concerned how my first, who probably had more one on one attention, was truly and alarmingly different. He also was much less concerned about me if I yelled ouch or struggled in front of him in early years. Nor did he run to the rescue of other children. My other two children as toddlers and preschoolers and school aged rushed to my side and others including peers sides to assist enthusiastically. Both are sensitive and can even sense emotion by facial expression and body language, both are school aged now. My oldest has no frame of reference for sensitivity or cues. He seems somewhat aware of this because he APLOGIZES constantly and without reason which confuses people and teens joked about it. I believe it’s because he has no ability to sense others feelings or emotions. He is callous and lacks empathy yet aplilogizes like its a habit without any true meaning. He has roles in school where he is in front of thousands of people as an MC but he can’t make eye contact or connect ine in one with anyone including close family members. Social anxiety except when he can orchestrate the actions of a large group who follow his “comands” fortunately his 2500 followers during these programs are doing positive, traditional things

    I also observed my first child rarely crying and never crying when he got hurt even when it was more than reasonable and as a young adult I can’t recall any tear every shed. My others cried appropriately. All my children are same the sex too. I see the lack of empathy and lack of attachment as well as manipulation traits in him but hope that my long term nursing and attachment parenting helped lessen the sociopathic tendencies. He has tremendous influence over large groups and charisma. Can’t talk to anyone but is spot on when interviewed on television.

    Has anyone elsw noticed these traits in their babies and children? Their father is a sociooath and his mother (maternal grandmother to my kids) was eventually institutionalize and diagnosed with cluster B personality disorder and schizophrenia.



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    • flicka says:

      Very interesting article! But how does one recognize hidden traits until these children reach their mid 30s-50’s.Until then, they, like their father before them, appeared far superior in every way. It’s almost as though our adult stressful lifestyles (environments) bring out these traits. Or were they so well hidden until then?
      P.S. I personally find George Bush Jr. a most narcissistic leader as his lies brought our entire nation into treasonous wars costing millions of lives on all sides.



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    • HurtMoM says:

      Yes I did notice that my daughter was not responding like I did as a child. When I punished her and told her to go to her room she would say “ok mommy”, she would never complain just waited for me to tell her to come back out of her room. She seemed to be too good as a child, something was wrong. I did asked a child development specialist about how she just accepts everything, they told me this was good, she learned. She was a good girl until 15 year old then I saw a girl I did not know. At that age I figured it was just a teenager acting out. She went into the Air Force at 19 but when I saw her once year she was different, no caring, no concerns about the family. Many years later I realized that she had no reaction or feelings when someone or her animals died. At the age of 35 he mask really started slipping. Finally the Air Force did diagnosed her as “antisocial personality disorder”. She became dangerous to me and my husband and trying to divide the family and friends. She has not been in our life for over 10 years.
      When a antisocial personality disorder child becomes dangerous and you realize that there is nothing you can do to help them.
      She has ruined her own family with no remorse and has gone on to start a new family at the age of 43year old.
      When your child tries to destroy or divide your family you have to keep them away, it is like a death knowing you can never see them again.
      Very sad to loose a daughter that we loved.
      I asked God to watch over her for me.
      I really feel for parents that have a child with antisocial personality disorder. Read all you can and make sure they are not out to hurt you.



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  3. jm_short says:

    Hurt Mom and Flicka-

    I found the signs were there from the beginning. As a little boy, my son was very sensitive about himself, but had no sensitivity toward others, including me. I knew he lacked empathy, but there was no literature at the time that connected lack of empathy with sociopathy.I simply thought empathy would develop as he matured. I was wrong.

    I nursed him. By all accounts, it helps create a bond. Except it didn’t.

    I took him to several therapists through the years. They all had band-aide ways to “fix” his behavior, none of which worked. He was ousted from 4 schools. He was even kicked out of his college dorm.

    It’s a misnomer to think that all sociopaths were abused as children. Mine was abandoned by his father, and I think the hole it created in his heart had something to do with his lack of bonding. Certainly, his brain chemistry and DNA factored heavily into his eventual makeup. He’s just like his father, even though he had practically no association with him for his entire developmental years. Strong DNA!!

    I’d like to think that the nurturing and code of conduct he adopted in my home prevented him from becoming worse than he could have been. He’s cruel and uses people. He splits and rifts with everyone at the drop of a hat. Living with him is always his way or the highway. But he’s not a ghoul. In fact, he can be quite charming. But we all know what that covers-up.

    I miss having a loving son. I recognize he simply isn’t one.

    A couple of months ago, his new girlfriend called. She was interested in getting us back together. And she was reading my book. I don’t know how she related us. I no longer use my married name. The book is written under my maiden name.

    In fact, she said that she would “insist” that he call me. I let her know I was happy to hear that he has someone who cares about him, but I didn’t need a son that called me on the demand of someone else. If he ever had the slightest interest in me or my welfare, he knows how to reach me.

    I have very little expectation that he will ever grow a heart on his own, and putting myself in harm’s way to be “used” in his relationship with his girlfriend is not my choice.

    Joyce



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