I’m sitting in the peacefulness of my backyard with my two dogs, watching them eat their treats out of their specialty toys. I make them mixes of yogurt, peanut butter, cheese and home-made dog biscuits that I stuff into these containers. They lay in the grass quietly, lapping every last morsel from the crevices of these inventions, oblivious to the sounds of the birds and the neighbor’s cats watching them. It gives them focus, adds some healthy food to their diet and aids their gums and teeth. And what does this have to do with psychopaths and their other disillusioned compadres?
I’ve had a rough few weeks. Animals bring us a peacefulness like no other. They ask for nothing in return for the love they give us. They wait adoring at the door for us. They wag their tails, they purr in our laps, they caw and flap their wings in wild anticipation of their owners interaction. They simply love us for who we are and how we behave towards them. They are dependent upon us for their food and water because they have been domesticated by us. In return, we ask that they love us unconditionally. No hidden agendas, no lies, no secret games. Just love shared among species. We can learn much from our relationships with our pets. They need to be nurtured with love and discipline so they will become the best animals they can be. Non-aggressive, loving, loyal, non-demanding, faithful and hope they will step up to the plate to alert us if danger is ever-present.
Violent, hostile and aggressively sick behavior towards animals seen during childhood is one of the three red flags often seen by psychiatrists that point to future criminal and psychotic behavior as adults. When children act out towards their pets, when pets go missing in a household, it is a cry for help and should never be ignored by the parents. This is a behavior that a child will not grow out of and is not considered as experimenting. It is the beginning of the triad of behaviors known as the “MacDonald Triad” or the “triad of sociopathy”. Two other behaviors that are included in this threesome are fire setting and enuresis, or persistent bedwetting after the age of five. There are conflicting schools of thought as to whether hardened criminals that have committed murder and other horrific crimes do carry this triad in their own mental characteristics. For more information on the triad see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macdonald_triad.
I can tell you that Daniel succumbed to two of the three characteristics according to the stories told to me by both him and his mother, Sandra. At this point, I don’t remember them discussing his bed-wetting incidents, but then again, most men don’t ever want their mothers relating stories about how long they went on wearing diapers or wetting their beds.
When Daniel was about nine years old, he deliberately set a small brush fire in a field near his home. He then pulled a fire alarm near the field, as the story was told to me, so he “could watch the firemen and fire engines come and put out the fire”. As Sandra was relating the story to me, as usual with great relish, she told me how excited little Daniel was about the firemen, and the big engines racing down the street to put out the “little brush fire” he had started.
When it was finally put out, and it didn’t take long, little Daniel went up to one of the firemen and told him what a “grand” job they had done. Apparently, little Daniel had also told the firemen, in his own excitement, that he was the one that had started the fire. The fireman asked Daniel why he had set it. “Because I like fire engines and fires!” little Daniel told the fireman. The fireman admonished Daniel and explained to him the severity of what he had done. He told him that while they were putting out the little brush fire, there could have been a much more serious fire where people’s lives were at stake and he must never do this again.
He then brought little Daniel home to his parents. The punishment? Daniels’s mother apologized to the fireman, they laughed it off (as she told the story) and little Daniel was smacked around again. No psychiatric involvement. No counseling. No wondering what was wrong with this child. Just laughter. And she topped the story off with how he became a volunteer firefighter as an adult because of his fascination with fire. Twisted thinking raising a twisted son. Bizarre rationale. I sit here now and write these thoughts of my times with these two people and still shake my head at how the system failed in recognizing a budding psychopath. How she fooled and flirted her way through so many bizarre occurrences that should have been recorded on police records and were not.
As an adult, he killed some of my pets. I’ve written about some of them. I’ve written about the dead kittens in the freezer. I still have the pictures he took from when he decapitated my cat. I have the video he left me on my digital camera of the same cat before he killed her when he was attempting to grab her from where she had climbed high on a shelf away from him and he was calling to her. I never look at these items. I can’t. But my mind has never forgotten them. It can’t forget the horrors. My mind cannot forget the look on my cat’s face on the top of the shelf because I know what happened next to her. He decapitated her. He’s a bastard for killing her. My thoughts go beyond hate, beyond disgust, beyond pity for him for what he has done to my animals. There are no words to describe my feelings.
I do know that as a child he didn’t have any pets, except for one dog and for some reason, that one dog was spoken about very little. I can’t say why Sandra didn’t speak much about the dog. I don’t know why she wouldn’t. I have no idea what happened to it, just that there was a puppy for a short time.
So back to what animals bring us. Peace, joy, wonder, happiness. What do they bring to the criminally and psychiatrically insane? A sense of empowerment, a sense of control and a way to bully and vent their inner rage over what is happening to them. If they are abused at home, often, they will take out their frustrations on a helpless animal. This isn’t to say all abused children behave in this way at all. There should be other factors in place, of course. And Daniel had far too many factors from birth and in his environment in place to set his role in motion from the time he was born. Animals would never hold a place in his heart.
He told me of his “beloved” Akita, who had to be put down when he was an adult. Instead of bringing his dog to the vet, he and a friend took the dog out to the woods, and shot the dog between the eyes. Then he created a burial site for the animal in his backyard. Convoluted thinking? Shoot your dog in the head because you claim you can’t afford to pay to euthanize him, then create a burial site for him in your backyard? Sick, twisted, dark thoughts. These are the stories that Daniel and his mother would tell me and believe them to be rational. These are the stories that haunt my soul. Stories such as these never leave you. When I watch my own pets now, I guard them carefully. They are my precious cargo. I don’t ever want to come home again to a decapitated animal. What Daniel and his mother has done to me cannot be undone completely. Some things I will always carry, no matter how hard I try to forget.
I stopped believing in the good of humanity some time ago. I don’t believe in angels anymore. I don’t even know if I believe if there’s any good out there. The Smiths’ destroyed a lot of my heart and no matter how hard I try, the stories of them re-surface to taint my good days. Time has passed and yet some days, it seems as if it was only yesterday.
There are other pet stories that I haven’t related yet, some too painful to write yet. They’ve hardened my heart irreparably. These people knew exactly where to hit me hard and where my vulnerability lie. My question to myself now is should I ever show a vulnerability again? Do I still have any naiveté or wonder of the world left? Or have I stopped smiling at the stranger I pass on the street as a friendly gesture of good morning?
These tragedies have reached my inner soul, and try as I might when the lights go out…the Monsters come out and play. Do we suffer when our demons are better company than the people we call friends and nights we spend tearing hair out and shedding tears are more comforting than those where we suffocate in darkness and solitude?
Don’t preach to me that it gets better if you’ve never walked a foot in my shoes. Don’t tell me that when you’ve hit bottom the only place to go is up if you’ve never faced the horrors of one of these personalities attempting to murder you. When you’re a victim, the unfairness is your reality. And the unfairness is that you became damaged because of an evil person that is very ill.
I know some of the damaged survive if their wills are strong. I only wish there was enough wisdom out in our society today to address the victims appropriately with the true compassion and understanding they need instead of society giving its fascination to the criminally insane. Let the public beware of both sides, using real words. Let’s not allow psychopaths and their victimization of others become a buzz word of this decade or far worse, something that others might call a slur on the criminally insane. They are very real people who do very real damage to others and they must be identified. The only people who can truly speak the stories about the damage they do are their victims. Let their victims be heard.
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