What is the relationship between a difficult childhood and psychopathy or evil?

Few of us forget the pain and shock with which we receive news related to murders or massacres committed by young people who, on the surface, seemed like ‘good guys’. Or, at least, incapable of committing such atrocities, as is the case, for example, of the one that occurred in the American town of Uvalde, in Texas (USA). This was carried out by an 18-year-old boy, Salvador Rolando Ramos, and ended the lives of 21 people, after having shot his grandmother. How can these things happen? Is there any relationship between the traumatic experiences of childhood and the mental disorder or the evil that drives to kill?

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Childhood traumas and criminal acts, are they related?

Psychologist José Martín del Pliego explains that a trauma is an event that overcomes the person’s coping mechanisms. This does not integrate and departs from consciousness. And this is very important, “it is something that is beyond me and there is no one to help me”. Within these traumas are cases of abuse and violence.

According to the psychologist Pilar Conde, from the Origen Clinics, it is not convenient to generalize in these cases, because it can lead to the stigmatization of certain social groups. She, although she does recognize that a series of circumstances have been detected that concur in the lives of the protagonists of youth violence.

The expert emphasizes that a high percentage of these profiles tend to hide childhood trauma, such as bullying, and a family environment with violence and/or abandonment. On the other hand, the personality traits of these subjects also meet a series of characteristics. For example, they are usually isolated peopleas is the case of Ramos, with symptoms of aggressiveness and previous suicidal tendencies.

– Read more: Psychopathic personality traits and telltale signs

Motivated by the thirst to self-defend the abuses

The psychologist adds that these subjects are usually motivated by the need to defend themselves against the physical and emotional abuse they have received for years. Something that also serves to justify their heinous acts.

The impulsive reaction of attacking the rest is triggered after a time of emotional distance, of breakdown of empathy and isolation: “Not only are they willing to end the lives of others, but they give up their own, given the risk to which they are exposed,” says the psychology specialist.

Pilar Conde believes, in fact, that the reason why these people can commit these acts of extreme violence in the classroom and against people who cannot defend themselves may have to do with the fact that the person who commits the crimes has lived through an unstructured stage of his life during the school period. For example, being a victim of teasing, mistreatment and harassment.

The psychologist Rafael San Roman, from ifeel, also affirms that biography matters and that the learning and experiences received during the first years of life are critical when an individual can promote psychopathy or keep it under control.

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Is being a psychopath or having a mental disorder the same as being a criminal?

We ask ourselves once again if psychopathy is related to evil and criminality. In this sense, San Roman indicates that psychopathy may be behind some crimes, but it is not the only factor that can lead a person to commit them. That is, not all psychopaths are criminals.

In Pilar Conde’s opinion, it is clear that these people are unable to feel empathy towards others, since they do not feel the pain of others and act with affective coldness. For Conde, moreover, these cases, such as those of the Uvalde massacres, raise doubts as to whether the psychopathic traits have been constructed based on the experiences of abuse lived, or if these traits really transcend them.

Finally, about the relationship between these murderers and the Mental illnessthe psychologist explains that although the symptoms of a serious mental disorder may be behind a murder, crime should not be confused with mental illness, since on many occasions it is not present, and a group is stigmatized, as well as sometimes used to justify abominable deeds.

– Read more: Perverse and narcissistic personality disorder: telltale signs

What is the relationship between a difficult childhood and psychopathy or evil?