By nothowscienceworks - 13/11/2015 07:06 - United States - San Francisco

Today, I had the mother of a five year old come in for parent teacher conferences. When I told her that her son was very smart, but he often made up fantastical stories about his home life, she burst into tears. She then ran out of my office crying, "I knew it! I knew he was a sociopath!" FML
I agree, your life sucks 25 928
You deserved it 1 729

Same thing different taste

Top comments

Because no child ever made up a story or has an imagination without having a mental disorder...

Wizardo 33

Guess he inherited the smarts from his dad.


If OP was saying this to the parent a negative connotation then he/she is an idiot... many children make up stories about their house life and it is perfectly normal

Even though hes just a kid the mother should still teach him not to lie

awildwhisper 30

He's just five and using his imagination...

Oops I was trying to say that his mom should teach him not to lie but it's okay if he is just using his imagination since he is only a child.

Comment moderated for rule-breaking.

Show it anyway

maybe because he is I kid and that's what kids do.(not to mention that the kid is FIVE)

I think they missed the point of this comment.

Because no child ever made up a story or has an imagination without having a mental disorder...

True. Still a bit young to tell. But if he continues in the next 5 years or so then he could very well be a pathological liar who may or may not have narcissistic sociopathic tendencies. In which case, he would be practically incapable of guilt and remorse. Met a couple in my life. The youngest one was 9. Hopefully this kid doesn't turn out to be one. I think the mother may have her reasons for crying. Perhaps the father was one. It's really quite devastating.

9-year-olds make up stories too. But hey, you got to call a 9-year-old a pathological liar! Isn't your mommy proud of you!

askullnamedbilly 33

Just out of curiosity #11, do you have any formal training in psychology or are you just one of those internet douchebags who thinks it's ok to diagnose themselves and others with mental disorders just because they read a few wikipedia articles?

As someone who suffers from a mental disorder is just like to say that #11 needs to find a short drop with a sudden stop.

ninety 25

Insinuating someone needs to go kill themselves for next to no reason really helps to shed your cause in a positive light, 18. You'll probably feel waaay better once you unbunch your panties. I'm just saying.

Then why did the OP say, "BUT he often...." If the child displayed normal behaviour, then why make the "but" remark like what he was doing was out of the ordinary? If the child is indeed a sociopath, I would think what the teach had to said just added to the suspicion the mom already had. Hope the mom does get the child properly evaluated. Better than a parent that thinks their child could do no wrong and think example: skinning cats etc... are just a healthy curiosity.

addioty 19

18, as someone who also suffers from anorexia nervosa, OCD and GAD, telling this person to kill themself is NOT OKAY. At all.

#18 You suffer from a mental disorder? Don't worry about it. We can hardly tell. And I'm not diagnosing anyone, I'm just stating a fact that narcissistic sociopathic people tend to be pathological liars. I've dealt with a few very closely and it's really quite an experience.

awildwhisper 30

Clearly if she ran out in tears then it's probable that it's just one of many signs

38 - It's probably just that the kid gets carried away and it disrupts work or carpet time, either because they're talking about the wrong thing or just talking too much. OP probably wasn't concerned about the actual behaviour, just wanted to keep it under control.

you can't evaluate a could properly until they are 10-13 years of age. when they're that young, you can't label them as anti-social (which would give evidence for being sociopathic). while you could say that they're a budding sociopath, its best to know for sure. if he shows strong signs, he should be tested, but if it remains like it is now, with only little signs, I say wait until he's at least 9.

Well that is the trait of a sociopath; one who is charming.. smart and good at lying. That said... he's 5.

My thoughts exactly. I feel three ways about this. On the one hand, excessive lying IS a symptom of sociopathy and yes, sociopaths usually begin displaying symptoms in early childhood and if this child IS a sociopath, he needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, because by the time he reaches puberty it will be too late. On the other hand, perfectly normal children often tell fantastic stories, so that alone doesn't necessarily mean anything. On the other other hand, given the mother's behavior, maybe his fantastic stories are true and it's the mother who needs psychological treatment.

oscillation26 3

he is clearly not a good liar if the op knew his stories about home were lies

Sociopaths aren't necessarily good liars all the time either. My sociopathic ex husband used to tell so many lies, eventually even the most naive people would start to question his stories. Sure, he'd have people convinced he was a decorated soldier with a cheating wife for a while, but eventually the lies would just build up and one after another they'd get exposed or there'd be an inconsistency in his story and his narrative just didn't make sense anymore. Sometimes they just don't know when to stop.

askullnamedbilly 33

That kid is not your abusive ex husband, #23. You're projecting your past issues on a CHILD who, according to this FML, has no issues despite an overactive imagination. Also, with all those 'experts' floating around on this FML I'd like to mention that not only has the term 'sociopath' not been used in ages in modern psychology, antisocial personality disorder cannot be diagnosed in children. It is then called conduct disorder and manifests in a pattern of violent and socially disruptive behaviour, not a five year old pretending like his home life is more exciting than it is.

Can i just point out that the human brain doesn't mature to the point of knowing right from wrong and feeling guilt fully until age 7? The kid has an imagination. If he doesn't know the difference, between real and fake explain it to him. If he doesn't get it in a few years, go crazy with the evals.

34, I never diagnosed the kid. All I was saying was that just because someone has been caught in a lie doesn't mean they can't be a sociopath. And while I'm certainly no expert in psychology, I have looked into this particular subject a lot, and it's a very controversial issue, to the point where there's no clear definition of sociopathy, but it is a real term. The controversy is usually centered around the difference between sociopathy and psychopathy. And with regard to a child, it's a difficult subject. On the one hand, like I said, a psychological disorders such as sociopathy or psychopathy need to be identified and treated very early. But like you said, children are not like adults, and they shouldn't be evaluated the same way. And if this particular child is normal and his behavior is nothing more than the whimsy of childhood, but his own mother insists that he's dangerous, that could damage him in a way he wouldn't be if he were simply allowed to grow out of the behavior normally.

I guess what I'm saying is, either the mom is a paranoid nut, or she's noticed other troubling behavior the teacher has missed.

The generally accepted difference (at the pyschiatry clinics I have been to, at least.) is that a sociopath is born able to learn morals, but develops a damaged sense of morals and empathy due to the environmental factors in their childhood. Psychopaths are considered to be born with an incomplete ability to empathize, and lacking some of the connections that enable the average person to learn morals. Putting the difference between the two aside, most mental/emotional health practitioners would not put down a diagnosis for the equivalent of either if the child was so young unless they were an active danger to people and/or animals, because such a diagnosis would linger and would likely effect future healthcare. However, I don't think that a doctor has even been involved with the child at this stage- it sounds like people, most likely family, have been commenting on the child's social behaviors in a way that is creating paranoia and a sense of distrust toward the child. Active imagination is a sign of several other neuroatypicalities that most would put forward before jumping to sociopathy, which implies that the mother has observed or been informed of negative social traits the child is presenting, which would be anything from being overly independent for their age to being a bully. Point blank, if the mother has honest concerns, she needs to seek medical help instead of trying to diagnose her son herself.

#47, you may have been reading up on this, but your sources were outdated. Try type 'psychopath' as well as 'sociopath' in and you will see that 'sociopath' has not been used in psychological and psychiatric research for a loooooong time.

I was gonna say, that sums up just about every five year old I know ??

66, just because it says that, does not mean that I'm even the last ten years, sociopath hasn't been used by professionals to classify people. it has.

71, misdiagnoses do take place, definitely. If you meet a professional, who uses the term other than to explain issues to people not familiar with the field, do make sure that people involved find qualified help.

My kids are very smart in school, and the teachers always have nothing but good things to say about them. That makes me super proud of them, not worried that they are crazy!

A07 48

A 5 year old sociopath? Sound like he gets that from his mom

the lady sounds troubled, try to help her OP.

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I probably would have phrased it a little differently than "But he..." It could have been stated that "Billy has such a great imagination! He said that Batman had dinner with your family the other night!" The 'but' part insinuates that there's something wrong with the child. Unless he's making up stories of abuse or something, then obviously that's something wrong. Just a thought.

Overactive imagination can cause issues in class. It's not a bad thing in itself but it can be disruptive or stop them focusing on work. So sometimes it needs to be a 'but'. It would pretty much always be followed by explaining that it's not a big problem and listing the positives before explaining the little thing to work on, but I guess the mum didn't stay for that bit.

Le_ponderer 14

OP, does the child appear bruised or abused in any way? If yes, you might speak to the school authorities about contacting Social Services. If however he's just a happy, imaginative kid then you need to speak to his mum again. You could ask why she feels that way (yes, I know you are not her therapist) and explain to her that all normal kids use their imagination! It's different from lying and has led to the growth of quite a few geniuses. Wright brothers anyone? If she's so worried, she can see an actual therapist to evaluate him.