Frequent followers of this blog know I’m a fan of the television show Dexter– not necessarily for its medical accuracy but for its amazing plot and character development. Honestly, I wish I would have been the author to create a series about a vigilante serial murderer working for the police department.
Sheer genius. You can read some of my medical analysis of Dexter here and here.
So, of course, I was intrigued when I found the non-fiction book The Psychology of Dexter that includes a collection of essays on various topics analyzing the show from different mental aspects and, over the next few posts, I’m going to highlight some interesting tidbits I learned along the way.
The first essay I found interesting was titled Rethinking Dexter by Lisa Firestone, PhD. What follows are quotes from the actual book or are very close paraphrases. This particular essay dealt with childhood PTSD and whether or not early treatment of psychopathic children could reduce their violent nature in the future.
1. “Research shows that a child’s cruelty toward animals almost always arises out of an abusive family environment. Humane education that focuses on developing empathy toward animals generalizes to empathy for human beings. The National District Attorney Association suggests that targeted therapy at this could save future lives.”
2. “Research suggests that psychopaths almost always are treatable if they receive intensive therapy for a proper duration of time.” which throws out the theory that there is not hope for these types of people.
3. “Studies have shown that almost 100% of children who witness parental homicide develop PTSD because of the severity of the traumatic event. Eighty percent of children that have been imprisoned, rendered immobile in some way (buried alive, tied up, or tortured) will develop PTSD as well.”
4. “Childhood trauma has an impact on actual brain development. It can cause serious structural abnormalities in the frontal lobe, known as ‘the seat of emotion.’ Brain researchers have found that these abnormalities often result in deep-seated personality deficits such as an inability to be empathetic.”
4. “When childhood events are traumatic enough to cause PTSD, children dissociate from themselves as the helpless victim and identify instead with the aggressor. They identify with the very person who is hurting them, who they see as strong and not vulnerable to the type of pain they are experiencing. This is the only survival strategy available to the child.”
5. “An additional common symptom of early childhood PTSD is post-traumatic play, in which children repeat themes or aspects of the trauma they experienced. This does not relieve anxiety.”
Are you surprised by any of this information as it relates to childhood PTSD?