Can a psychopath ever be cured?

Originally posted on Lucky Otter’s Haven on November 5, 2014


I watched a fascinating documentary, about a 6 year old girl (Beth Thomas) who had been severely sexually abused and neglected and was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, a precursor of psychopathy. The little girl is remarkably callous when she speaks about wanting to kill her younger brother and her adoptive parents and shows little emotion. However, because she is only six, she is also honest and candid. She is shown a few years later and has become a normal, loving child.

Psychopaths generally cannot be cured, but in some cases like little Beth’s, early intervention combined with removing a young child from an abusive home can reverse the course of psychopathy before it’s too late. Today, Beth Thomas is in her 30’s and is a registered nurse who works with her adoptive mother, Nancy Thomas in her company Families By Design, which promotes Attachment Therapy to improve the parent-child relationship.
From all accounts Beth shows no signs of narcissism or psychopathy. This is what she looks like today:



16 thoughts on “Can a psychopath ever be cured?

  1. Does that picture of Beth today really look like an emotionally healthy person? To me, I see a forced smile, an attitude that is held together with an enormous effort of will. But I suppose you see something different. I know her “cure” was achieved with a lot of outward control on her behavior. Did you ever see the film Secretary? She reminds me of Lee’s mother’s face.

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    1. There’s no way to tell for sure. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her smile, but there’s no proof she’s actually cured. Maybe she just controls the symptoms and chooses to act in prosocial ways, like some psychopaths have done.

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  2. Beth seems to be one of the rare cases for a kid to be recovered from RAD and live a fine adult life. I have not heard of any other recovery stories about RAD and therapy seems to make them worse and there doesn’t seem to be much support for these children and RAD doesn’t seem to be really understood.

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    1. I agree. I think she was young enough though. If they had waited or she had stayed with her birth parents longer it would probably have been too late. Unfortunately for many kids her age and younger, it’s already too late. 😦


      1. Beth apparently recovered in less than a year after getting treatment, I was like whoa, that was fast and she must have had a good learning attitude. Unfortunately parents are forced to renounce their adoption because that is the only way they can get their kid help and I am sure that is hard for them and that is like losing a child but they want their kid to get better and the only way they will get better is being with someone who can treat RAD and knows all about it and the only way to do that is to give up their adoption.

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        1. It did seem very fast. But Beth seemed like she wasn’t entirely corrupted yet, in spite of the shocking things she said. I noticed when the therapist was questioning her about the baby birds, she started to seem a little more emotional, and the doctor seemed to pick up on this. So I think there was a part of her that did feel remorse. I also thought it was interested when she was questioned why she wanted to kill her brother, she said so he didn’t have to be around people who would hurt him. So in a way she wanted to protect him, even if that meant wanting to kill him.


        2. That is the same kind of logic logic some people have when they killed their kids. Susan Smith killed her kids because she didn’t want them to be alone without a mother and she wanted to kill herself but backed out the last minute, Andrea Yates killed her kids because she thought she was a bad mother and she didn’t want to screw them up, Kelli Stapleton attempted to kill Issy because she couldn’t seem to be treated from her lack of impulse control that caused her to be violent and she was hitting her little sister, Christina Riggs killed her children because she wanted to kill herself and didn’t want her kids to be separated from each other due to different dads, Karen Mccormack or whatever he name was killed her autistic child in 2006 to “free” her from her autism, and that one rich mother in New York City who killed her autistic son to free him from the abuse from someone I think was his father. What kind of thinking is this? This doesn’t sound like a mind of a psychopath so Beth’s reason for wanting to kill her little brother is a sign that she isn’t really a psychopath.

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        3. I thought Susan Smith killed her kids because her lover didn’t want any, and Andrea Yates killed her kids because she thought they were possessed by the devil. I don’t know about the others.
          There’s never an excuse to kill a child, but sometimes people who do are certifiably insane.
          I’m not making excuses for Beth trying to kill her brother either, but at 5 or 6 it’s hard to hold a kid responsible for their actions, pre-psychopathic or not. Thank the Lord she failed to kill him, but he must have suffered some psychological damage. I hope he’s okay.


        4. Read My Daughter Susan Smith written by Linda Russell (it’s an ebook). She tells a whole different story and I found out what the media reported was all inaccurate and David Smith was actually a dead beat father and he abused Susan emotionally and mentally and it was his harassment and stalking that drove her to kill. Even David admitted to some of the abuse in his book he wrote.

          This makes me lose faith in the media. Don’t forget about the hot coffee incident about McDonalds when the woman sued.

          No Susan still shouldn’t have killed her kids, it was still wrong and that is something she has to live with for the rest of her life behind bars. But that book really made me change my mind about the whole thing.

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  3. Regarding ‘leaving’ the thinking and behavior of ‘personality disorders’:

    It would seem to depend upon whether the person in question sees such behavior as ‘profitable’ (socially speaking) or not. (The terms ego-systonic and ego-dystonic come to mind)

    If one, say, ‘derives social profit’ from socially predatory behavior – or worse still, *enjoys* such behavior for its own sake – then that person is likely to need divine intervention to willingly renounce it – much like during the honeymoon period of drug-addiction. (The social world’s version of *crack*…)

    If, however, the person finds their behaviors and thinking to be reprehensible and loathsome, then they will likely be ‘more’ motivated to find workable alternatives to *predation*.

    Example: while a large measure of ‘predatory thinking’ seems a requirement for autists to simply understand the thinking of bullying-inclined Normies (so as to predict their behavior for purposes of self-protection) thinking in *that* accursed way is most corrosive of one’s soul – and, it tends to cause one to see bullies ***everywhere***.

    Even where there’s been little sign of bullying for ages.

    The ***seduction*** of thinking like a ‘real-life Nosferatu’ is palpable; this being so even when ***doing*** much with such thinking is beyond me. The answer, however, isn’t retrieving the manacles; no, it’s learning to more-clearly discern matters like ‘relational aggression’ – and then learn to aggressively deal with such matters in an **appropriate** fashion.

    This means ***unlearning*** the lessons imparted through ‘screams, slaps, and love’ done to me for the last fifty-odd years.

    Now… Say I could, uh, mind-read – oh, and I could hide my machinations in a Normal fashion…

    I’d probably not only NOT be inclined to return from the corner-of-hell that learning about the darkened part of the social world has put me. No, I’d likely embrace it – and then ***become*** Nosferatu.


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