For ages, philosophers, ethologists and psychologists have been trying to understand human nature. How is it possible that some people are cruel and evil? Is it genetic predisposition, social circumstances or experiences from childhood that make people hurt others and feel no remorse?
Tomek is an 18-year-old young man who has been charged with several offenses, including robbery and assault. He is cruel to people and animals. He told me that he does not hesitate to use gun when holding a toy gun next to my head. He said that he is a hit man in one of Mississauga gangs and his role is to execute money from people. Sometimes he has to shoot their knees or arms to scare them. He said that he is one of the best because he has no fear and he has been trained in underground shooting range located somewhere in Mississauga. Police doesn’t know about this place but they know a lot about Tomek. He calls them on different occasions from his cell phone informing that he was stubbed or attacked which is not true. He likes to dress up. One day, he bought a costume from Dollar Store, hid behind the tree and scared an older person by jumping out with a knife and screaming at her. Another time, he scared a teenage girl who fall down and broke her arm. Tomek is a master of disguise. Pretends that he is a police officer, lawyer, financial advisor. People believe him, especially young girls who find him very attractive. He said that he needs maximum 15 minutes to get any girl in his bedroom. He tells them fake stories about his achievements. He complements them so they find him charming. Tomek is a predator. He becomes easily angry and reacts with violence when something doesn’t go his way. He is not scared of consequences of his behaviours, doesn’t feel sorry for others and is not afraid to spend his life in jail. In other words, he has nothing to loose. Tomek was hospitalized on several occasions at the psychiatric unit. One time, he dressed up as a doctor and was checking on patients. He was removed from the hospital immediately and banned to come back. He reached out for help at other locations but nobody wants to treat him. Doctors say that his place is in prison. Looking at his history, Tomek was diagnosed with a Learning Disability when younger, he was physically and sexually abused by his peers, frequently rejected and abandoned by his parents.
Early adolescents have an impact on adult life. Persons who have suffered significant harm during school years can develop defensive mechanisms that will prevent further suffering. Being separated from one’s own emotions, is a frequent occurrence of this kind of phenomenon. Psychopaths have limited access to their own emotions and are therefore unable to feel the empathy or understand the other person’s situation. They cannot recognize or understand emotions. Aggression and hatred are the emotions most often experienced by them. They take on the role of predators as they have nothing to lose – after all, they already survived the worst. The expression of their face does not reveal any emotions, however, they feel emotions stronger than others. They display self-destructive and suicidal tendencies. Men are often diagnosed as psychopaths and go to prison. Women as borderline – ie, people emotionally unstable.
Let’s remember that aggression causes aggression, and the impact of long-term trauma can cause personality disorders that impact the whole society. The victims of adversities in childhood hide in their own world, which to them seems to be safe. They often raise children with similar problems, which are often visible in early school years. Of course, not everyone who has experienced psychological trauma will become a psychopath. Therapy and pharmacological assistance can help. Rehabilitation is possible but in my opinion, prevention is much more effective. Showing love to children and modeling positive behaviors is a key. Aggressive behaviors cause fear and hatred. Punishments and biting takes away a sense of dignity.
Dr. Ewa J. Antczak