Typical psychopaths lack empathy and therefore can harm others without remorse. What causes some people to become seriously ill? Where do psychopaths come from? Scientists have long been searching for answers to these questions. Thanks to the research of Norwegian scientists, we are one step closer to solving the mystery.
Dr. Aina Gullhaugen and her team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology looked at all studies on psychopaths in prison over the last 30 years. The results were published in the “International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.”
Dr. Gullhaugen had previously conducted her own research on psychopaths in Norwegian high-security prisons. It turned out that all the psychopaths she studied had two common traits. They were related to their relationship with their parents and the way they were raised.
According to an expert, every psychopath she has dealt with has experienced abuse from their caregivers without exception. Their disregard for others is rooted in negative childhood experiences. The sick individuals tried to deal with their painful past but did so in the wrong way.
In the case of more than half of the examined psychopaths, there was another common element – they grew up in toxic conditions. What does that mean? Either their parents didn’t care about them at all, or, on the contrary, their caregivers controlled them at every step. Such experiences from their youth could have made them feel rejected.
According to Dr. Gullhaugen, their parents presented an authoritarian parenting style that restricted the child’s own will and independence. This is something that can make a psychopath act ruthlessly on other people later, more or less consciously, to get what they need.
Her theory suggests that psychopathy is not just a matter of nature, but also of nurture. She believes that a combination of genetics, temperament, personality, and sensitivity is an important factor in the development of psychopathy. However, she emphasizes that not all impulsive behavior can be explained by bad parenting. The tendency towards psychopathic behavior is not solely genetically determined.
Aina Gullhaugen believes that her research could become the basis for the development of new methods for treating psychopathy. Furthermore, it is important to realize that a psychopath’s behavior is influenced by their upbringing, their parents’ approach, and their family relationships.