Why is it an accepted thought that childhood is the crucial factor in psychopath’s development?
There is a school of thought that the upbringing is a crucial factor in a psychopath’s development. A study carried out by Dr Aina Gullhaugen of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology on high-security prisoners found that many had been on the receiving end of either total parental neglect or controlling authoritarian parenting. Gullhaugen describes a scale going from total neglect at one end, to control at the other, going on to say “More than half of the psychopaths I have studied reported that they had been exposed to a parenting style that could be placed on either extreme of these scales.” Arguably one cannot blame parents for everything, and a large percentage of children who have been exposed to traumatic upbringings do not go on to display psychopathic tendencies. Dr Gullhaugen’s research is further backed up by Professor Essi Viding of University College London whose research resulted in a conclusion that just under 1% of all children are callous-unemotional, the term used for psychopathic children who are inclined to cheat, lie and set out to hurt others with no remorse.
There is also research to suggest that most institutionalised psychopaths have experienced physical and/or psychological abuse in their childhood. A study was conducted investigating childhood relational trauma in a group of violent offenders from Italy. The research was done on a group of twenty-two offenders each convicted for violent crimes all between the ages of twenty-two and sixty. The findings showed a positive correlation between high levels of childhood trauma and score on the psychopathy checklist suggesting that early exposure to relational trauma plays a relevant role in the development of more severe psychopathic traits. Dr Gullhaugen’s research also lends credence to this with all institutionalised psychopaths studied having a history of grotesque physical and/or psychological abuse during childhood.