Sharing personal information brings people closer together. But how do you know when you’ve gone too far—or when someone else has ulterior motives?
Verified by Psychology Today
I was a chronic bedwetter until age 10, I put a feather duster in the fire to see what would happen when I burned, and I locked a kitten in a room with me and chased it with a rolled up newspaper repeatedly hitting it (I had seen an adult hit a cat once with a rolled up paper and for some reason wanted to copy this).
I did some of those things, I believe, because I felt powerless and wanted to be powerful, and the bedwettting in particular seemed to be a combination of anxiety and genetics as my sibling also wet the bed late into childhood.
I also did such things as sticking a spoon into a plug socket deliberately to try to see what an electric shock would feel like, planning to runaway, calling a child helpline and lying about being beaten, and often thought in great detail and my own death.
All of these things, together with my tendency to cry a lot, "daydream", be shy and sensitive, yet occasionally aggressive and protective if I felt someone was being wronged or was doing me wrong, were signs of a very distressed personality.
Considering the childhood surrounded by violence, drugs, and alcohol, and the bereavements and traumas I experienced this would not have been surprising. I was never personally physically or sexually abused (as far as I know, because a lot of my memory is blank - sometimes years at a time), but this was clearly a danger picture...
I did go on to have a lot of issues with anger management and anxiety and depression, and I had a strange fascination with biting people and with imagining stopping the breath of my first child when they were a baby.
I also found the idea of being violently sexually assaulted a rousing from a young age.
My psychology clearly showed problems from childhood into early adulthood. However, I also had regret, compassion (sometimes so much compassion I was deeply prone to allowing myself to be harmed), and have always valued 'fairness' extremely highly. This, along with my intelligence and conforming nature, and honesty in therapy, seemed to enable me to gain a lot of insight and to unlearn these odd coping behaviours.
I never even once thought about intentionally killing anybody. But I did think a lot about harming myself and I have suffered hugely with PTSD, depression, anxiety and OCD.
I know my account in anecdotal, but I think a wider reaching examination of the implications of these behaviours in children is definitely called for, because the potential for shame and stigmatisation of 'criminal' or 'sociopathic' tendencies in children is frightening immeasurable. I truly believe that children who display these and other obviously deranged behaviours - like I did - should be understoid, and taught emotional regulation, given stress management skills, guided and loved through their pain, without prejudice.
They should be seen as having all the potential of every other child out there, and not labelled with the expectation of future homicidality. That, I believe, would not only give the child a future life to be proud of, but in the case that these behaviours would or could be predictive, prevention could be entirely possible.
Get the help you need from a therapist near you–a FREE service from Psychology Today.