Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Truly Terrible Twos

"What's the difference between a toddler and a psychopath? Apparently, not too much. In 1980 Robert Hare, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, developed a 16-point checklist for determining whether a person was technically a psychopath. After taking a look at this list, and taking a look at the daily behavior of my two toddler girls, I can only conclude one thing: a psychopath is just really a person who has never grown out of the toddler stage."
—Rhiana Maidenberg takes us point by point through the list and wow, she is onto something. Take, for the easiest example, #1: "Superficial charm & average intelligence." ZING, Rhiana Maidenberg's kids! Related: One time I took the test.

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This is kind of a random thing that bugged me, but I don't think the blogger knows what "affect" means in the phrase "poverty of affect"



Something to that effect.


@Ophelia I'm pretty sure the joke is that she does.

fondue with cheddar

@Ophelia You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


Sooo, that pic up there is obviously going in your next feature, Toddlers Struggling to Hide The Fact That They're Basically Dexter, right?


Please don't stop making these@j

Tuna Surprise

I went to a friend's (who is a stay at home mom to a 2 year old) birthday dinner last summer on her roof deck. The 2 year old very helpfully came up to me and the other party guest and said repeatedly "Go away, Mommy's friend". It took all my energy to not hiss at the child "Listen you little brat, I've got better things to do tonight but I came out to Queens to support your mother because she needs a break from your demonic ways so why don't YOU do us all a favor and go play with your toys before I toss you over the side of your roof and you 'go away' forever."

Zombie Cucumber

American toddlers = psychopaths.
Other countries and cultures, less so.


@Zombie Cucumber American everything < Other Countries' and cultures' everything


Zombie Cucumber

@whizz_dumb President Perry will get you for that, whizz_dumb.

Skanky Baggington

I was in a play with a pretty cool chick this past fall, and after rehearsal one day she offered to give me a ride home. I had to sit in the back with her three-year-old who said (in a really shitty voice) "You're mommy's friend? I thought she made you up!" The juice box dad thought this was hi-larious. I offer to get drinks with this women fairly often now, whenever she needs an escape.


In Denmark it happens late, it's the Psychopath Threes: http://www.onehundredone.dk/women.html Those eyes know no remorse.


jane, i was overly thrilled when i listened to this american life poolside this summer and i instantly recognized your voice. it was a good episode and had me immediately wondering whether i was a psychopath too (i'm not)


@pollykettle I listened to that one 2 weeks ago while alone in the office. I was surprised Jane was voted one of the likely ones to be a psychopath, I guess she doesn't show off her crazy side here as much as she did on This American Life.


You do not know fear and frustration until you have looked into the eyes of your three year-old cousin demanding a Pop-Tart, knowing full well there are no Pop-Tarts in the house, and all the stores are closed because it's 11 pm and your grandparents live in the back of beyond, and you're pretty buzzed so you shouldn't be driving, but it's the only way you can babysit, and why the hell did these people leave their children with you? Oh yeah, because you're "So good with them!"

Katie Walsh

I am in love with the photos accompanying the slideshow. Bravo, photo editor!


I recently read Dave Cullen's incredible book about Columbine and he talks about the definition of a psychopath in there...I'm still freaking out a little because I think my brother fits all the criteria. But he's 19, so he's sort of like a toddler? Right?


@tortietabbie Oh that book is so good! i always feel weird bringing it up to people like...you should read this book about this terrible event, but it is truly so well-written and answers so many questions.

Also, I work in criminal defense, and the book gave me an interesting insight into the mind of some of the people I encounter on a daily basis.

Artressa Vandelay

sounds like my 2.5-year old twin neice and nephew. I watched them for 24 hours straight over the holidays. It took me a couple days to recover.

Artressa Vandelay

sounds like my 2.5-year old twin neice and nephew. I watched them for 24 hours straight over the holidays. It took me a couple days to recover.


Oh man, the bright smile accompanied with the arms wide stretched and "mommy!", then the bite in the chest when you melt and give them the biggest hug is pretty much the definition of psychopath toddler!!

I have 3 at home....only 1 is still a toddler though.


whooaa, whooaa!!! sorry bout that!! dang internet!

fondue with cheddar

I only ever babysat one truly psychopathic child, and he wasn't even a toddler. He was 4, I think. He literally tried to strangle me, and almost succeeded because I didn't know what to do! I couldn't fight him off because he was a small child. I wanted to throw him off me because he was pressing on my windpipe, but what if I hurt him? I told him to stop several times, and he finally did, thank goodness.

After that episode, I sent him to his room, where he threw a table in defiance. He THREW a TABLE.

Needless to say, I never babysat him again.


When I was 13 I was babysitting my cousins and the three year old pointed a gun at me. Just came out of his bedroom with a shotgun, right after his parents left. I somehow got it away from him and hid it somewhere, and guess what his dad's response was when he got home: "Oh, that's not loaded. He can play with it."


Oh, and, in case you're ever in such a situation again, a safe way to keep a violent/dangerous toddler under control is the bear hug. Sit, them on your lap, hugging them firmly (not too tight, just steady and firm) with their hands pinned against their sides. Calmly: "I can't let you go if you aren't being safe. Try to breath and calm down." That's what I do, anyway, when it gets extreme.

fondue with cheddar

@lue WHAAAT? Guns are not toys! I don't care if they're loaded or not!

The bear hug is a good idea. I wish I'd known that at the time, though I'm not sure how much it would have helped since the kid had his hands on my throat. BUT I will never put myself in that situation again. The only toddler I ever spend time with is my nephew, and he's not a psychopath.


I can't look through this because it's going to crash my work computer and also because kids that age annoy the holy bejesus out of me, even in pictures, but is there anything in there about the ear-shattering shriek that they all use to control and dominate everyone around them, all the time? I think toddlers are more like advanced weapons than psychopaths.


This may bring the world down on my head, but it's the toddler stage that convinces me that properly administered spanking (not violent, not angry) can be a very good thing.

Not every kid needs it, but every once in a while, it sure as hell can work wonders on those that do.


Please don't hate me or think that I'm a terrible human being!

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