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Is sociopathic behavior a learned behavior?
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Is sociopathic behavior a learned behavior?

My husband’s little girl is 7yrs old. My husband’s ex wife is a sociopath and just today admitted to being one. She said she doesn’t know why she feels she is always right and everyone else is in the wrong. My husband’s girl has a learning disability and had a meeting with a psychologist to see if she has ADHD. His ex-wife said “Do you think I did something wrong when I gave birth, because I know I am perfect, so I don’t understand why our daughter is not.”  His daughter sometimes takes on her mother’s personality (lies, hurts others feelings and doesn’t care etc). We looked up the medical definition of a sociopath and his ex wife is every one of the symptoms. We have 50/50 custody. I do think this evens things out to the point that his daughter is not as bad as his ex-wife.  What more can we do to stop this child from ending up like her mother. We both love her dearly and fought to have joint custody of her. We don’t want her to have no friends, be materialistic, mean to others ( just like her mom)so on and so forth.


This discussion is related to Sociopathic Behavior.
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603946_tn?1333945439
more narcissistic behavior than sociopath isn't it?
Yes narcissism can be learned- I think sociopaths are said to be born without a conscience.  A true sociopath can go on to learn thru consequences that are favorable or unfavorable to them, which behaviors are more (and less) acceptable to society. You can even have a good honest to God police officer or even clergyman that learn to control their behavior by realizing what is acceptable and what is not.

Basically at this age if she has been taught right from wrong a conscience should be fully developed- that does not mean she will not have unacceptable behavior.

Give her some magazines and photos of you all- Ask her to make a collage of things she loves and see if she includes people or "stuff"- Do this with her every year or so- by grade 5 a child usually starts to care more about others, not just themselves, and starts reaching out with their other family members just a tiny bit to help others in their community- and that is what good parents do anyways.

read about heredity vs. environment-  I imagine she will be just fine.
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13167_tn?1327197724
She admitted to being a sociopath?   ??

Anyway,  what you can do is model normal behavior.  Make a point of saying things like "I was sad to hear that so and so wasn't invited to that birthday party.  That really hurts my feelings for him".  "I can't stop thinking about my friend today.  She sounded so sad about ____,  when we're at the store remind me to pick up a card for her."  

Just model graciousness and caring,  and make your facial expressions model it too.  When she expresses empathy for someone,  expand on that with her and encourage her.  

She'll learn it if she sees it.


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505907_tn?1258372940
  I know this is an old post but I could feel my face getting hot as I read it and knew I just had to respond. You need to read the literature that is availlable on sociopaths, "The Sociopath Next Door" comes to mind. There is some credence that some certain cultures do seem to experience less frequency of sociopathy and it is surmised that this might be because the whole of the culture is more attuned to "oneness" and nature, etc. but that is not what we are dealing with. As the mother of a sociopath I can tell you that he was my golden boy. I showered him with love and attention and when he started to exhibit some serious problem we hire tutors, went to psychiatrists, had passionate meetings with the school, etc. It took many years and alot of counseling before he was diagnosed and was years later before I could begin to accept it. This is a disorder not a personality flaw. You do your best - what else can you do?
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13167_tn?1327197724
Leta,  I think you've misunderstood me,  and I also think I wasn't very clear in my response.

I agree,  sociopaths do appear often to be "born",  not created.  

This stepmother's question was how can they do their best to ensure the child doesn't grow up to be like the sociopath mother (btw,  it's hard to take a person's assessment of their husband's ex-wife always at face value,  often you don't get a very fair picture).  

There doesn't seem to be any indication this child is a sociopath - she appears to have ADHD and is probably learning anti-social behaviors her mother is modeling.  

So,  the way to help her best is to model very appropriate,  very empathetic social behaviors.  That would be the best way to counterbalance the behaviors her mother is modeling for her at the other house.

I don't believe - in any way - that you can change a sociopath by simply behaving normally around them.  But you CAN counterbalance inappropriate behavior modeling by showing normal behavior and reactions around a child who may not be getting much of that kind of teaching.

I certainly know that great parents who appear to be doing everything right can still have children who are sociopaths,  or all other personality disorders.

Best wishes.  I'm sorry I wasn't clearer.
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Avatar_f_tn
you should read this article, it's enlightening:

http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/narcissism/antisocial_sociopath_psychopath.html
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505907_tn?1258372940
  I apologize. You can, perhaps, imagine what a nightmare it was over the years to constantly battle the idea that I was responsible for this child's behavior - especially to myself. No, with a true sociopath you CAN NOT change them. What makes you think you can? I guess, once again, that you are speaking to a parent of some minor misbehaviors or inconsistant wickedness. I would lie in bed with this boy night after night just talking. I would beg him for some honesty. I would have rewarded him greatly had he ever been honest about ANYTHING! I'm telling you I made every effort. He had a "friend" who was very heavy. This boy's family had money and my son would go over there and play their video games. I found nasty pictures my son had drawn with this boys name and rhymes about how fat he was. Do you think I wasn't shocked and outraged? He laughed in my face. I could go on and on but LeftCoastChick, here's an article for you:  http://www.cassiopaea.com/cassiopaea/psychopath_2.htm
My son is a "charasmatic sociopath" and it describes him to a tee.
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171768_tn?1324233699
we also have to remember that noone diagnosed this woman as a sociopath as far as we know. in fact, i doubt a true sociopath would admit that she is one to her ex and his new wife.
Rockrose's suggestions are very helpful to teach any typically developing child empathy.

LetaB- thank you for sharing your experiences. it must be very difficult to speak about at times. but as an educator, it is helpful to learn a little about as many disorders as possible. Not that we try to diagnose- but hearing other people's experiences helps us gain an understanding of the children in our class. at what age did you realize there was a problem with your son? i am currently having troubles with a child who is unlike any other child i have worked with. while he does not fully fit any of the descriptions on the site you provide, he has some alarming behaviors. Do you have any other sites or references where i can look for information on related problems to help me find ways to manage him?
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505907_tn?1258372940
  I understand perfectly well that only a doctor could diagnose any child with sociopath, etc. I also think it is imperitive to demonstrate love and good morals, etc to all children - no matter what you suspect or they are diagnosed with but that's second nature. You continue to love the child because they are children. I read once that we should feel sorry for the narcissistic because they want love and to love but they don't understand what is wrong with themselves. How are psychopaths any different? They were born this way and did not choose it.
  When my son was an infant he cried or nursed. There were days when he wouldn't nurse because all he would do was scream. He was diagnosed as "colicky". He was an obviously gifted child but my mother told me that she thought he was "amoral". I thought not In first grade his teacher gave me a pamphlet on ADHD. My whole family seemed to finally make some sense. He kept this diagnosis for several years until his falling grades, falseness, cruel behavior, and constant lying made me take him to other psychiatrists where he was labled "OCD", "DD", and "BP", and I forget what all. In his last year of high school - after he dropped out, refused to get a job, and spent all day in his room smoking weed - he blew up at me and said alot of wicked long suppressed things.I filed court papers to have him removed from my home to protect my other children. At that time, to bolster my case, I got the files from his last psychiatrist and the tentative diagnosis was in there! I contacted the doctor and explained his ongoing spiraling down in negative behavior and he filled out the court papers with a firm diagnosis of "charasmatic psychopath".
  It took longer, and many items stolen, or begged for, with him playing me like a fiddle before I said, "I know what you are and I cannot afford you, in my fragile mental state, any more." I cherish him as the little boy I thought I knew but I grieved for him as if he were dead.
    Merry Christmas, Toby, wherever you are.
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