The Psychopath Test

Follow Claire Smith's Mothering Heights on Twitter @MinistryOfMum

Follow Claire Smith's Mothering Heights on Twitter @MinistryOfMum - Credit: Archant

Last week I went to see Jon Ronson speak. Any of you that are familiar with him will probably have read The Psychopath Test.

In this book, he talks about the Robert Hare Checklist which is a diagnostic tool used to rate a person’s psychopathic inclinations. Well I read the test through once and immediately decided that my four year old would probably get the highest points ever scored (although not as high as my dead cat, Waggy).

The Checklist includes traits such as:

• Need for stimulation or proneness to boredom

• Pathological lying


You may also want to watch:


• Parasitic Lifestyle

• Poor behavioural controls

Most Read

I could go on but it’s too scary.

Jon Ronson admits that once he’d learnt about the test, he was tempted to apply it to people that he knew - so I wasn’t alone here. It did get me thinking about the people in my life such as my neighbour and my old junior school headteacher. Armed with such information that’s normal behaviour, right?

Obviously, applying it to a four year old with typical four year old behaviour is a very serious step, so I decided to take comfort in the fact that I’m not a mental health expert and therefore my diagnosis is, without a doubt, worthless. However it did get me thinking that the tendencies my four year old is showing could possibly do with some control.

People are telling me that if I “don’t sort it now there will be trouble later” and since he is into hitting me with Hot Wheels for fun then insisting the dog did it, he must be stopped before he ends up a potential psychopath.

The best way to do this, so I am told, is by having a naughty step.

The naughty step is a favourite place of all the child-behaviour specialists because it is the place where the child can calm down, think about his actions then eventually say sorry. Clearly they have not considered the combination of a determined four year old with a Robert Hare Checklist score and a mother who has no idea how to administer the step. It’s all very well putting him on there but getting him to stay is a different story.

I have tried holding him there, using Santa on speed-dial, threatening no more sweets EVER, but nothing can keep him on the naughty step for more than ten seconds. So I’m a long way off the one-minute-for-a-year-of-life goal. I bet they don’t have these kind of problems in Broadmoor.

Thankfully at least somebody is getting a kick out of the naughty step. My son’s new favourite game is dragging the dog onto it and making her sit there for a minute per year of her life (currently 28 in dog years).

He’s actually doing a much better job than I am. He’s probably got a good chance of devising his own Checklist in the future that will be used by experts worldwide.

Perhaps I’ll get him to put me on the step next time. I could easily spend my 44 minutes by having some peace and quiet.

Or 44 minutes wondering, with my impulsivity, irresponsibility and parenting delinquency, how much of a psychopath I AM.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus