Reparenting a Psychopath: is it possible?

David Bernstein thinks it is.  Here he talks about using schema therapy/reparenting techniques to tap into a psychopath’s vulnerable/childlike side. He has worked with forensic patients with psychopathy and ASPD for many years and insists they do have such a side.

We’re not even talking about narcissists here, but psychopaths, who are not supposed to have any soft emotions and make narcissists look like a walk in the park in comparison.  But Bernstein thinks that if a psychopath’s vulnerable side can be tapped into  (which occasionally appears randomly and he gives three examples he’s seen among his forensic patients) then perhaps empathy and remorse can be taught.

I’m really skeptical, but it’s interesting and would be great if it could work–especially as crime deterrent and a way to rehabilitate hardened criminals.  From what I’ve heard, only a very, very few therapists (concentrated in the New York City area) are even trained in this.  Even if it does work, it probably wouldn’t work on psychopaths born without the parts of the amygdala that control empathy and conscience, just on sociopaths with normal “white matter”  who became antisocial due to a bad childhood.

The only “easy” thing about the patients Dr. Bernstein treats are that they’re not difficult to get into therapy, since these are forensic patients who are already in prison.   They can’t quit when things get uncomfortable.   Such is not the case with most NPDs, who usually aren’t in prison and don’t often seek out therapy for themselves.


18 thoughts on “Reparenting a Psychopath: is it possible?

    1. I agree. I’m really skeptical but it’s interesting and would be great if it could work. From what I hear, only a very, very few therapists (concentrated in the New York City area) are even trained in this.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. There’s a lot more therapists trained to treat NPD–treating ASPD is a whole different ball of wax and a lot harder (and NPDs are pretty hard!). I’d be interested in hearing about those case studies!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I haven’t had the time to flip through the e-books I have yet, sorry. I agree that ASPD is much harder than NPD, and NPD itself is difficult due to how hard it is to keep the patient engaged and motivated.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. NPDs also play games with their therapists. So that’s why it’s hard to engage them or get them to talk about their real feelings. A prison population of ASPDs can’t avoid therapy or run, but I would imagine they would resist a therapists efforts to get them to talk about feelings too.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Reblogged this on Lucky Otters Haven and commented:

    I’m skeptical about this, and there are VERY few therapists even trained in this, but if it could work, it would be a great way to rehabilitate hardened criminals and deter crime. The speaker in this video is riveting.


  2. I remember seeing an interview with a neurologist who learned that his personality actually fell in on the psychopath spectrum/scale. (Evidently there is a test somewhere…) Anyway… this could be used on teens (if it works) at risk that have anger issues, etc. So I agree… not sure it’ll work… but if it did? It could prevent a lot of crimes (and criminals).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting video. I have a cousin who has been a therapist for a little over 20 years. In the early part of his career, he worked in a maximum security prison. He has told me about some of his conversations with death row inmates. One, who was days away from getting the needle for raping and killing a child, told my cousin that he believed this life is a “boot camp for the soul”.


  4. I doubt that with a psychopath it works but would be great if it did. I think they can just become aware of what they are but never cease to be ice cold and sadistic

    Liked by 1 person

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