Childhood Trauma: Its Relationship to Psychopathy.

Things seem to be getting on top of Homer.

Things seem to be getting on top of Homer.

‘Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand.’
– Homer Simpson.

The term ‘psychopath’ is often used by the tabloid press. In fact, the diagnosis of ‘psychopath’ is no longer given – instead, the term ‘anti-social personality disorder’ is generally used.

When the word ‘psychopath’ is employed by the press, it tends to be used for its ‘sensational’ value to refer to a cold-blooded killer who may (or may not) have a diagnosis of mental illness. It is very important to point out, however, that it is extremely rare for a person who is suffering from mental illness to commit a murder; someone suffering from very acute paranoid schizophrenia may have a delusional belief that others are a great danger to him/her (this might involve, say, terryfying hallucinations) and kill in response to that – I repeat, though, such events are very rare indeed: mentally ill people are far more likely to be a threat to themselves than to others (eg through self-harming, substance abuse or suicidal behaviours).

The word psychopath actually derives from Greek:

psych = mind

pathos = suffering

Someone who is a ‘psychopath’ (ie has been diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder) needs to fulfil the following criteria:

– inability to feel guilt or remorse
– lack of empathy
– shallow emotions
– inability to learn from experience in relation to dysfunctional behaviour

Often, psychopaths will possess considerable charisma, intelligence and charm; however, they will also be dishonest, manipulative and bullying, prepared to employ violence in order to achieve their aims.

As ‘psychopaths’ reach middle-age, fewer and fewer of them remain at large in society due to the fact that by this time they are normally incarcerated or dead from causes such as suicide, drug overdose or violent incidents (possibly by provoking a ‘fellow psychopath’ to murder them). However, it has also been suggested that some possess the skills necessary to integrate themselves into society (mainly by having decision making skills which enable this and operating in an context suited to their abilities, for example where cold judgment and ruthlessness are an advantage) and become very, even exceptionally, successful; perhaps it comes as little surprise, then, that they are thought to tend to be statistically over-represented in, for example, politics and in CEO roles (think Monty Burns from The Simpsons, though I’m aware he’s not real. Obviously.).

Has Monty Burns hatched another diabolical plot?

Has Monty Burns hatched another diabolical plot?


Research shows that ‘psychopaths’ tend to be a product of ENVIRONMENT rather than nature – ie they are MADE rather than born. They also tend to have suffered horrendous childhoods either at the hands of their own parent/s or those who were supposed to have been caring for them – perhaps suffering extreme violence or neglect.

Post-mortem studies have revealed that they frequently have underdeveloped regions of the brain responsible for the governing of emotions; IT APPEARS THAT THE SEVERE MALTREATMENT THAT THEY RECEIVED AS CHILDREN IS THE UNDERLYING CAUSE OF THE PHYSICAL UNDERDEVELOPMENT OF THESE VITAL BRAIN REGIONS. It is thought that these brain abnormalities lead to a propensity in the individual to SEEK OUT RISK, DANGER and similar STIMULATION (including violence).


Whilst there are those who consider the condition to be untreatable, many others, who are professionally involved in its study, are more optimistic. Indeed, some treatment communities have been set up to help those affected by the condition take responsibility for their actions and face up to the harm they have caused. Research is ongoing in order to assess to what degree intervention by mental health services can be effective.


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David Hosier, BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

3 Thoughts on “Childhood Trauma: Its Relationship to Psychopathy.

  1. I liked your approach in this post. It wasn’t judgmental at all and was warm yet restrained.

  2. David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc ; PGDE(FAHE). on May 15, 2013 at 8:53 am said:

    Hi, Thank you very much for your feedback. Yes, I try to be as objective as possible so I’m pleased this shows. There is an expression, I think (though I do not recall its origin apart from the fact it was originally written in French), that ‘to understand everything is to forgive everything.’ I appreciate this can prove almost impossible in reality, of course; indeed, I wasted a lot of my life allowing myself to be eaten away with bitterness and resentment, to my enormous regret. I have just subscribed to follow your blog which I will make time to read soon. Best Wishes, David Hosier.

  3. Your welcome. I like that saying. I believe that’s been my mission, the underlying drive behind almost all I do. To understand is to not live in fear.I think bitterness can be just a big of a destroyer as drugs can be in someones life. Its addictive and relentless.I hope to release any bitterness I harbor I am able to let go of through writing and honestly talk therapy. Its can be challenging at times, but if not kept under hand I think it can be what drives people to hurt others like the way I was hurt. I hope you enjoy a look around. I look forward to seeing your posts in my reader.

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