Two things reached ludicrous speed for me the past week or so, the precocious behavior of an exploited reality TV show child named Honey Boo Boo (HBB) who is gaining wide exposure on talk shows across the nation and the ‘almost psychopath‘ term coined by two Harvard researchers. What do they have in common with each other? They both gall me, gag me, and disgust me. Why? Because they involve the fostering, rewarding, or excusing of bad behavior. Simple as that.
The Role of Environment in Development
On a deeper level, both situations highlight the role of environment and experience in the making or development of a person.
Because early-developed behaviors tend to persist across the lifetime, shouldn’t we take more care with our children?
Although they are not set in stone, it requires a lot of hard work in adulthood to change detrimental thinking patterns, beliefs, and behaviors developed in early childhood.
If you follow search for clips of HBB’s interviews, you will notice how shocked adults are at her behavior, how her mother just laughs it off, and you will probably hear the word “exploited.” Then notice how the mother rationalizes what she is doing because she is giving $$ to charity. At that point, look at her child’s body language–she is in a complete harrumph with arms crossed and a frown on her face. Lastly, one commentator admits that TV often exploits children and has no intention of stopping that practice. Why? Because its lucrative. Millions of people are tuning into HBB’s show.
How to Create an ‘Almost Psychopath’
Now, about the making of an ‘almost psychopath’. What is the origin of adult behaviors associated with an ‘almost psychopath’?
Can the claim hold up that grandiosity, exaggerated self-worth, pathological lying, manipulation, lack of remorse, shallowness, and exploitation for financial gain are purely genetic?
In my opinion, such behaviors cannot be blamed on genetics because that would nullify the sea of early-developmental research which strongly suggests otherwise. Brain and mind development are experience-driven. The mind also forms within a social context, in relationship with another person.
At what point do we take personal responsibility for the raising of our children and the readjustment of our thinking and behavior?
I welcome your comments on this topic!
Perry, B. D., Pollard, R. A., Blakley, T. L., & Vigilante, D. (1995). Childhood trauma, the neurobiology of adaptation and “use-dependent development of the brain”: How “states” become “traits”. Infant Mental Health Journal, 16, 271-291.
Siegel, D. J. (1999). The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are. New York: The Guildford Press.