The article “The Childhood Psychopath: Bad Seed or Bad Parents?” by Katherine Ramsland asserts that psychopaths are different from other people and have high tendencies of becoming criminals (Ramsland). In addition, the author is convinced that only a limited number of children are born with antisocial tendencies. Some of the characteristics that define psychopaths include little behavioral inhibition and lack of fear. The article argues that the majority of antisocial children acquire their traits from poor parenting. Therefore, the number of such children can be reduced significantly through proper parenting and socialization. While the author acknowledges the view that some criminal traits are inheritable, characteristics such as fearlessness and aggressiveness can be directed towards developing positive behavior through socialization and excellent parenting. The failure of parents to provide good parenting to their children may lead to antisocial behaviors that are expressed through violence and aggression. The writer argues that even children born with psychopathic traits can be trained to attain socially acceptable characteristics. Brain studies conducted on psychopathic people indicate that they exhibit abnormal brain activities. The activities include deriving excitement from thrill-seeking behaviors and reduced fear of punishment. The conclusion derived from this article is that environmental factors have a greater impact on antisocial behaviors than inherited traits.
The article “Psychopaths, Children, and Evil” by Nancy Darling explores the perceptions of different people on the causes of aggressive children. Darling refutes the claim that the deviant children exhibit psychopathic behaviors, because they are in control of their environments (Darling). Those who propagate this argument think that the solution lies in the exhaustion of the children up to a point of surrender. Darling counters this argument by asserting that there are many adult psychopaths in jail, because such solutions have proven unproductive. Ramsland and Darling concur that parents or other caregivers are essential in influencing children’s behaviors. In addition, she believes that biological predispositions determine how we react to the environments. Moreover, the author ascribes to the belief that the interaction with the environment influences both the organizational and structural features of the brain.
Although Darling believes in behavioral changes from the interaction of genetical and environmental factors, she acknowledges the difficulties of the change. She suggests that persistence in providing proper parental guidance should be maintained even when the results seem far-fetched. The author argues that there are children born without the capacity to feel pain. Such children may constantly hurt others, because they cannot identify with the pain. To them, learning is a critical process to educate them on how people who are hurt feel. Through the learning process, the children with psychopathic characteristics can modify their behavior and reduce aggression. The ability of the children to learn is based on the concept that when the brain is used, it expands and provides more room for learning. In addition, failure to use the brain through learning may render some of its parts dormant. Such a process results in the deterioration of the antisocial behavior in children over time as their brains have no room for improvement. The author summarizes her thoughts using Waddington’s gene-environment interaction theory to support her view that some children can learn and change their behaviors while others cannot.
Mathew Taylor’s article “Psychopaths: Born evil or with a diseased brain?” questions whether they have diseased brain or are simply born evil. Unlike the first two articles, Taylor’s work views psychopathy from a purely medical and biological perspective. The author analyzes the work of doctor Dugan on the brain of a serial killer to provide insight into the functional aspect of psychopaths’ brains (Taylor). The study on the brain of Dugan indicated that he was not remorseful for having raped and murdered a lot of people. The experiment of doctor Dugan revealed that psychopaths fail to understand why people are concerned with their actions. The focus of the article on the biological factors that may influence people to adopt psychopathic behaviors is controversial. The controversy arises, because the focus challenges the long-standing view of psychopaths as criminals. The findings of the study characterized the antisocial people as lacking guilt, empathy, and remorse. These results agree with those of the first two articles. According to doctor Dugan, the brains of people classified as psychopaths are limited in development in areas that control emotions. As a result of the brain malfunction, they act first and then think about the repercussions of their actions. Consequently, they end up in trouble not because they plan to commit crime, but because of acting impulsively. The implication of this finding is that the psychopaths are not perpetrators of crimes, but victims of disorders. The findings of this study may place a burden on the legal system to evaluate the way it treats psychopaths. The legal system may be expected to treat them as patients instead of criminals. In addition, there have been made insights into a possible way of creating preventive mechanisms for children. The development of a brain scanning machine for children would be very helpful, because it would deter many people from acquiring antisocial behaviors.
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From the analysis of the three articles, it is clear that there exists controversy on how to view psychopaths and their origins. The first two articles by Ramsland and Darling have a similar perception of psychopaths. They both accept that the genetic and environmental factors are the causes of antisocial behavior. The third article by Taylor looks into the issue from the biological and medical perspective. All the three articles concur on the characteristics of psychopaths and how they behave within their environment.
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