Therapists Reveal How They First Discovered Their Patients Were Sociopaths
Sometimes people are just not ok mentally. That is not a judgement. Knowing you need help is 90% of the battle. Maybe if we all acknowledged we needed help sooner we'd all be better off.
Redditor dahdoc asked the therapists of Reddit to divulge Therapists of Reddit, what made you realize you were treating a sociopath? It's all slightly unsettling but... we ALL have issues.
PEOPLE ARE DISAPPOINTING.
Psych nurse here.
Patient I gained a lot of trust with told me about this person he and two others tortured almost to death. I knew the case because it made the news. He went to jail for it. Went in to details about the torture. It included making hundreds of cuts to the persons body and giving them an acidic bath.
This guy was in our ward for about a month (continually threatening suicide if he was discharged). .
Thing is he stood trial as a minor and threw his mates under the his, claiming they were the instigators and he simply went along with it. They are still in jail
DOES SOMEBODY HAVE SOME HOLY WATER?
I worked in a locked inpatient psychiatric unit for 5 years. I saw many things that scared me but the most bone- chilling patient I ever worked with was a handsome, charming 35 year old man we will call Mark.
On our unit, if you told your nurse you were actively suicidal, you were placed on a 1:1 meaning you had a staff person assigned to you at all times to be in any room you were in to make sure you didn't hurt yourself. Mark nonchalantly came up to his nurse this particular day and stated he was suicidal and needed assigned a staff personal. Even though we knew (or so we thought bc you can't be 100%) that he was lying, we had to provide him with a 1:1. I was the only available staff person and was therefore assigned to him. He asked me to walk "laps" on the unit with him. I said sure.
As we walked he asked seemingly meaningless questions about things like my favorite food or holidays I enjoy. I am always cautious about giving out information and felt his questions were harmless. About an hour into our walking he commented that He gathered I care deeply for others. Then took his head and smashed it through a glass window. Blood gushed from his face and glass was stuck all over his head. We had to transport him by ambulance to our emergency department.
Two days later he returned back to our unit, medically/ physically cleared. Upon coming back he came up to me to apologize for "scaring me", winked, and walked away. I fully believe he caused pain to himself to put that ever terrible visual in my head and scare me into knowing that if he could so easily hurt himself, he could do the same for others.
VIDEO PROOF IS EVERYTHING.
Great kid during the day, tormented his foster siblings and videotaped it at night. Loved being the "good kid" in the house during the day and "didn't understand why Jimmy would scream and hit so much." Meanwhile Jimmy" was his target at night but wasn't verbal and couldn't tell anyone. Sociopath was always kind to the verbal child so only Jimmy was prey. In front of the foster parents, Sociopath seemed like a model teen. Finally a video surfaced through sheer dumb luck and now Sociopath is in jail. No one believed it until they saw the video. He's handsome, charming, and will ruin lives because his youthful offender status means he won't have a criminal record.
WELL THAT IS FRIGHTENING!
My dad's a (now semi-retired) psychologist. Back in the 90's, he was working as the director of psychology for a large housing and treatment facility for the severely mentally disabled. He wanted to get into doing some therapy sessions for non-disabled folks on the side, just to mix things up and stretch his professional wings a little. Our house had a home office "wing" with a separate entrance, so he decided to start seeing a few patients on the weekends.
This plan lasted about three weeks before he realized that he'd made a terrible mistake.
One of his patients, a very large gentleman, began visibly melting down during a session, pacing around the office and acting increasingly erratic. My dad's thoughts turned to the fact that his wife and three kids were now in the same house with a big dude who was clearly unstable. He slowly positioned himself by the door in case the guy tried to bolt for it. The guy noticed this, pulled out a gun, and said, "Don't worry, if I wanted to hurt you or myself, I would have already used this by now."
My dad utilized the same skills that he knew from working with violent patients at his main job to talk the guy into putting the gun away. He escorted him from the premises, and never saw another patient at home again.
My mom was pissed.
OK. BYE FELICIA.
I've worked with a few, the most disturbing one was an ex military guy. He had served time in Iraq in the early 2000s, and he had killed in the line of duty. He always seemed a bit off, but the story he told me that was like, "holy hell he's a sociopath" was when he told me about how he would do things like kill goats, because he could get away with that and some families there depend on livestock to survive.
The second was more of a "sterotypical" sociopath. He had been arrested for drug possession, and during the arrest attempt had stabbed himself a few times while trying to stab the arresting officers. He was very sharp, but intentionally choose the life of a drug dealer because it was violent. I don't think he ever actually killed anyone, but he definitely abused people pretty horrifically. He dealt meth and enjoyed power tripping off messing with desperate addicts. He was also the only antisocial person I've ever met who had a weakened pain response. He once stabbed himself with a pen to prove to me he "didn't feel pain". And I mean like a legit, buried the pen in his flesh, blood everywhere kinda stab. Yeah....
While one cannot be diagnosed with Anti-social Personality Disorder (the disorder most-associated with what the layperson understands as sociopathy) until adulthood, Conduct Disorder is often the place-holder diagnosis given to children who meet similar criteria. While working as a Clinical Supervisor/Clinician at a mental health crisis/assessment facility, I had parents who brought in their 6 year old son. This kid was freaking adorable, soft-spoken and polite. When queried as to history, the parents remarked that among numerous incidents of animal cruelty/abuse.
RED FLAG!! RED FLAG!!
Honestly, he made me feel scared and panicky to be in the same room. Part of being a therapist is you build a very strong client-therapist bond, and there's a lot of empathy/openness in the room, so things can get quite intense and emotional (in a good way). With this guy I felt like a tiny trapped little animal in the room with a dangerous predator.
He had no remorse for his actions. He'd slip in remarks meant to impress/threaten, then look somewhat annoyed when I did not react (I was reacting inside). I do not fully recall his name/looks and wouldn't on here anyway, but on the outside he looked totally normal and actually seemed kind of ok. But after talking to him for a while, there was this emptiness that I found quite disturbing.
He casually admitted to domestic abuse in the same way someone would admit they left the hall light on by accident... to me, in front of his partner!! He'd never brought it up before and, as a trainee I should NOT have been working with DV cases. They would be triaged and referred to someone with specialist experience. I can't go into details, obviously, for confidentiality reasons... but it was a huge overreaction to an honest accident (could have happened to anyone) and he literally mentioned it in passing, and seemed to be more like'Oh for gods sake, this isn't even worth mentioning, why did I bring this up, I'd rather be talking about myself'. He just didn't care.
I remember just nodding and remained calm, whilst drawing a huge exclamation mark on my notes. I made it through the session somehow, then immediately told my supervisor and had him transferred to a different counsellor.
I've honestly never been so scared of another individual just from a'vibe'.
IT'S ALL IN THE EYES.
I've been a licensed therapist for going on three years now, but I've been seeing clients (with an Intern license) for about five years. The vast majority of my clients have been on probation or parole and have had a wide range of mental illnesses, including anti-social personality disorder (ASPD).
My mentor described folks with ASPD like this:"It's in the eyes. They've got shark eyes: cold and predatory, like they're staring right through you, looking for your weaknesses to exploit." And, having worked with several people with that diagnosis (and adolescent precursor Conduct Disorder), it's pretty damn accurate. People with ASPD are some of the most manipulative people around, and many of them enjoy it. Manipulating people is almost a game to them--well, a mini-game to indulge in while they work on whatever else they're planning, even if it's as simple as "present as normal." And, let me tell you: they're good at it. It's incredibly difficult to out-play someone with the diagnosis at their own game because they've been playing it their entire lives. Since my clientele are court-ordered, most of the manipulation revolves around trying to cover up whatever else they're doing (abusing their domestic partner, abusing substances, etc.). Some are more impulsive than others with the diagnosis, but they all have the shark eyes.
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THE KIDS.
Not a therapist, school psychologist. When talking to a student, he casually mentions how he keeps his parents _"in line" _by threatening to call ICE to have his mother (undocumented) deported. He doesn't care about his family in the least, and they have zero control over him. His two siblings are typically developed and are terrified of him.
YOU CAN'T SAVE EVERYONE.
I work in a residential substance abuse program. I don't take offense to most clients behaviors; they were in the midst of their addiction and they're trying to get better for any number of motivators (self-referral, family, probation/parole mandated, etc.). I've worked with convicted murderers whom were remorseful and great to work with, so whatever, let's do some work together. But I'll speak of one person whom I believe to have Antisocial Personality Disorder:
After approximately 30 minutes talking to him during intake, I could tell how well he might be able to manipulate those he believes are "dumber" than him, and he stated as much. He mimicked my language, posture, he spoke eloquently, and was charismatic as all hell. But something was just off. I take note, and move on; needed more data. And as he continued in the program it became apparent. Everything was someone or something else's fault. Failed relationships, his addiction and particular drugs of choice, his inability to hold jobs; no accountability or responsibility. He even blamed his brother for getting upset that he (my client) stabbed his brother. After my client had stolen his brother's car in the dead of night and drove it in a ditch and abandoned it; then he lied about it and stabbed his brother for being "annoying". He manipulated other clients and staff, and was damn good at it, except for a few of us who would call him out in group sessions or through behavioral contracts.
He was my individual client and during a session, I was challenging him because there were inconsistencies in something he shared. Then he finally came clean. He is HIV+ (I was aware of this). He contracted HIV by cheating on his partner or sharing a needle (he and the person he cheated with shared needles). He had discovered he was HIV+ prior to his partners return, as they were gone for an extended period of months. He got on treatment, and then... didn't tell them at all. Still hadn't at the time I stopped working with him, and I believe they are still together.
He completed treatment by going through the motions and is now out in the community. He is young. I have a strong feeling that at some point he will move to even more malicious acts, and I wouldn't be surprised if he kills someone in the future.
This isn't exactly what you were asking, but a relative of mine was given an unofficial diagnosis of ASPD when she was younger. At the time, the doctors told her family that they "didn't like to officially diagnose someone that was under 18."
As a child, she was extremely manipulative and could go from acting very _"normal" _to being stone cold in the space of a moment. Her parents forced her to go to therapy, but as soon as she became an adult, she stopped.
Her life now, as an adult, is pretty normal. She is still extremely manipulative but is also better at hiding it, so she comes off as charming. She works a normal job, though she usually changes jobs (by her own decision) every year or two. Her boyfriends seem to only last as long as they are useful for whatever reason. I don't think she really has friends though.
ALWAYS BE READY TO SWING.
Not a therapist, this happened to my Medical Psychology teacher (psychiatrist). Guy comes in. First time, has appointment. He is greeted by my teacher's secretary. Doctor is with another patient, running 5 minutes late. Patient is upset because he was told he would go in at X time sharp. He sits down. After 5 minutes the patient gets fed up, stands up from the reception's chair, goes to the secretary's desk, grabs the 15 inch CRT computer monitor and crashes it into the secretary's skull.
He leaves, calmly.
Secretary suffers several vertebral fractures along with a skull fracture.
I don't know if the police caught the patient afterwards.
CHILDREN ARE SCARY EARLY ON! PAY ATTENTION!
I work in an elementary school, I started there three years ago when the boy in question was in third grade. I knew something was off about him, but I didn't have much interaction with him. Fast forward a year, he's in fourth grade and since I work primarily in fourth and fifth grade, I'm having to deal with him a lot more. He mimics behaviors, has cold eyes and stares through people like he's dissecting them. He's very manipulative, but unfortunately (for him)/fortunately (for us) he's so wrapped up in pleasing himself and getting what he wants, he's not charming at all. Very manipulative, but lacking charm.
He was violent and would hit and kick other kids, which he was repeatedly written up for. Towards the end of fourth grade it came to a head. We were at recess playing a huge game with a lot of the fourth and fifth graders and he essentially got out. He freaked out and hit the kids who got him out. When he saw I was getting the behavior/incident report out, he ran at me.
I guess because I'm a 5'5" female, and am overweight, he wasn't expecting me to be as strong as I am, but he tried to tackle me, and instead I planted myself and he bounced off. He tried to punch me and the other teachers I was with called for back up. I just kept blocking his punches and kicks until the main disciplinary officer showed up. All the whole this kids is screaming details of how he's going to torture me, told me he was going to use my intestines to strangle me.
Reports were written and he had to go to in-patient treatment. He's back now, towards the end of fifth grade, and while he's less violent now, and doesn't threaten anyone, he's still very manipulative. He scares me.
He had a wealth of dead birds under his bed that he poached himself. Each of them being a name of a childhood friend he"once knew."
NEVER ACCEPT FIRE!!
I work with kids. The boy was very charming and confident. Polite and well mannered. But I knew that he attempted to burn his sister and he liked to smear feces on the wall. He ran away a lot too. I asked my supervisor what would become of a kid like that. She said he was a sociopath in the making. Generally you don't label kids as such but his behaviors for a 10 year old were extreme. Sad case. Sad and horrifying.
SOMETIMES IT'S TOO MUCH!
Therapist here. I've had several clients that were a bit extra. The one that sticks out the most was during my work as an inpatient therapist where a borderline HIV + sex addicted client tried locking me in her room during rounds and offering "favors". I haven't done therapy in 2 months now and I think I'll stick to academia for now.
NO REMORSE. PAY ATTENTION!
I work with adolescents mostly in group homes. This kid was particularly quiet and kept to themself. It was clear he didn't understand social norms and rules. Would interject oddly and forcefully into conversations, had little to no theory of mind (understanding that others have thoughts), and would play games to understand how they should think during therapy. Anyhow, to make a long story short, they figured out how to mimic many emotions, graduated out of the program, and was transitioned back into the community. A few months after they'd left, their family was on the highway and this kid threw a dog out of the window. Zero compassion, zero remorse. They didn't learn those well and it was apparent during the intake interview and subsequent therapy. They struggled and showed distress not knowing how to act and most of what they talked about after was how to not be discovered again.
People Explain Which Fictional Characters Should Have Been Slapped With A Lawsuit At The End Of The Story
My favorite movie of all time is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. That movie slaps, aside from the presence of the evil Grandpa Joe. But I can't help but think of the number of lawsuits that would've taken place after the movie. Despite the fact that Wonka had all of the kids in his factory sign a contract, there definitely would've been a legal case involved after a kid almost drowned in a chocolate river, right?
Luckily, I'm not the only one who speculates the legalities of fictional universes. Thanks to Reddit, we can have discussions like this without looking like a weirdo at every party you go to. Because trust me, most drunk people don't want to hear about your Golden Ticket conspiracy theories. Trust me.
Why is it that most children’s movies come with some truly awful adult characters? They would’ve been the first to be slapped with a lawsuit.
I feel like this goes for most superheroes.
"The Power Rangers, they're a paramilitary group and are (almost) never officially sanctioned to operate by their relevant municipalities. They cause massive amounts of destruction from their fights and by not warning anyone about the enemies they battle."
The poor Baudelaires.Why Do You Hate Us So Much Neil Patrick Harris GIF by NETFLIXGiphy
"Pretty much every adult in A Series of Unfortunate Events."
"Given that the in universe legal system of ASOUE allows a man to marry his adopted 13-year-old daughter, coerced by a threat to her baby sister's life, under the guise of a fraudulent play, presided over by a judge unaware she is acting in an official capacity, and absolute none of this legally invalidates that marriage and the only thing that saved Violet was a loophole that a signature doesn't count if written with one's non-dominant hand, I don't have high hopes for the Baudelaires in civil court."
Do you feel it, Mr. Krabs?
"It's still running but, I can only imagine all the labor laws Mr. Krabs has broken."
Patrick- I can get my award working for Mr. Krabs
Spongebob- Yeah and at $50 dollars an hour. When I started working here, I had to pay Mr. Krabs $100 dollars an hour.
I always thought it meant Patrick was being paid that much until I realized what it really meant.
Hogwarts was a death trap.
"Vernon Dursley from Harry Potter. Child abuse, both verbally and possibly physically."
"Also, Hogwarts would have been sued I'm certain by multiple parents on multiple occasions if it were an option in the Wizarding world. That place is a security nightmare! (credit, mugglecast for fully convincing me that security nightmare is an accurate description)."
"Cerberus chilling in a closet, basilisk wandering the pipes, ferocious textbooks that can bite, dementors wandering around, very questionable teachers including a host to Voldemort, a death eater on polyjuice, a werewolf (despite that he was a good teacher), and a ministry official that used physical (permanently scarring) punishment on students. Totally acceptable place to send your kids every year, for sure."
Weird, the movies you loved without question as a kid kinda shift your perspective as you get older.
That deleted scene would’ve helped with context.shocked jurassic park GIFGiphy
"John Hammond from Jurassic Park. His legal team would spare no expense."
"From memory, there's a deleted scene from The Lost World: Jurassic Park where that happens. It's a boardroom discussion about payouts to the families of the workers who died and to the British family that accidentally stumbled upon Isla Sorna. Because of it, the board agrees to sack Hammond and make Ludlow head of Ingen with immediate effect. Ludlow then comes up with a plan to get their money back by opening up the park in San Diego using dinosaurs from Isla Sorna. Come to think of it removing that scene kind of removes a ton of context from the rest of the film."
Hell, I wanna sue this movie for messing me up.
"The dude who ran the Truman Show"
"Funny that movie was on tv and I just watched it again. Truman would have been able to sue for hundreds of millions. Then the money and fame would get to him. I think Truman would have had a mental breakdown after leaving. He would have been one of the most famous people ever. He wouldn't understand the hounding, everyone using him wanting him to do business with them."
"Everyone knowing every single intimate detail about you. Trying to come to terms it was all fake. He would be extremely paranoid his entire life and have a complete existential crisis"
Different rules for the John Hughes universe.
"Everything that goes on with the car, hijacking a parade float, or trepassing throughout the neighborhood. Man the 80s we a different time."
It’s so wild what fictional characters get away with. It almost makes me mad, before I realize that they’re fictional and that I’ve had too much wine while bingeing these shows.
They should all be in jail.Always Sunny Fx GIFGiphy
"The gang from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia should be bankrupt from lawsuits and/or in jail by now from all the stuff they've done."
"I'd say almost 1 in 3 episodes should land one of them in jail for a couple years. With at least 1 season landing all of them in jail."
I can’t watch The Office for this reason.
"I like the episode where they hired an ex-con. He had been convicted of insider trading. Kevin later quietly confesses: 'I had him explain it to me three times. Because it sounds a lot like what I do here every day.'"
Doctors would never get away with what they do on this show.
"Every character in Grey's Anatomy."
"The amount of HIPAA violations on that show was extremely distressing I have often said I would never ever want to be a patient in that hospital."
As for Willy Wonka, I'm pretty sure the only reason why he wasn't sued was that he had to live with Grandpa Joe. And that, my friends, is a punishment worse than death
Let it be known--if you ever find yourself in a fictional universe, you can basically do whatever you want without consequences. Best of luck, and godspeed.
It's fun to sit around and pretend, isn't it?
Or maybe you win the lottery, it doesn't matter. The point is there's a lot of things you can do with a billion dollars, so with the world the way it is let's take a fun trip down imaginary lane.
What would you first do if you ever became a billionaire?
These are the people who would help the world continue running, keeping the sails on the ship and the car on the road. They spend their money responsibly, reasonably, and with caution.
Maybe a little boring, but extremely necessary.
The Bare Minimum
"Turn on double verification in my bank account"
"Bank account or bank accounts?"
Let's Put These Things In Proper Order
"Get an attorney"
"Then an accountant"
"It's so unlikely to become an accidental billionaire, but basically this, the only way to survive it is to create a company that runs your life and has multiple employees. Your attorneys, accountants, drivers and security detail. You are now the CEO of a small company that is dedicated to your safety."
Doing Things For Others As Well As Yourself
"This will sound cliche.
Take care of friends and family.
Travel for remainder of my life."
"You would be popular for taking care of your friends and it's a good thing to do, but i feel like it would get weird once the word gets out. You might suddenly find yourself surrounded by a lot of long-lost friends."
Of course, if you've been gifted billions of dollars you don't have to go down the reasonable route. Instead you could take all of your money and do something silly with it. Something obnoxious.
A Whole Lot Of Nothing
"Nothing, with that kind of money I could afford not to do anything for a while."
"Anyone with a billion dollars who is still working is a psychopath."
"Buy two senators and make them fight."
"They are surprisingly cheap; can you get a few more and let the rest of us watch?"
Start A Lot Of Beef With A Lot Of People
"I'd employ a law firm that semi-exclusively litigated my petty squabbles with the world. False advertising. Cop car paint colors. Whatever else that bothers me."
There's no explanation for these ones. They say money makes you eccentric and these people's dream purchases are proof of that idea.
Who's Gonna Stop You?
"I would never tell anyone and pull money out of my @ss when i need it."
@ss pennies do give a certain amount of confidence."
Sounds Like A YA Novel In The Making
"I'd build a Hunger Games theme park complete with an Arena and invite 24 children a year."
That's Some Fancy Ketchup, Bro
"I'd still eat Kraft Dinner but with really expensive ketchups. Dijon ketchup."
"And an emu. I bet you always wanted an emu."
Dream big. Have fun imagining your future.
Just don't dream of a death match for kids. That's probably not an ideal way to spend your cash.
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Our interactions with strangers can be pleasant – whether it's a fellow customer at a store smiling at us or talking sports or other mutual interests with a friendly bartender.
But then there are those who you just can't figure out but engage in a conversation with anyway until something in your gut tells you to abort.
Whether it's an ominous situation or a mysterious individual, your instincts telling you something is not right is usually accurate and what happens next depends on whether or not you act on what your inner voice tells you.
"What is Your Best 'I'm in Danger' Story?
These predicaments could have resulted in severe consequences. Or not.
"Driving through jasper on our way to leduc when my dad saw a family on the side of the road looking off into the bush off the side of the road. So we pull over and walk over to ask if they need any help. They say that they saw a bear in there and were throwing rocks at it to get it to come out so they could take pictures. My dad told us to get back to the car and we sped off down the highway. To this day i wonder what happened to those idiots."
"Not me, but a really close friend was going through flight school and they were going through emergency procedures and the instructor asked something along the lines of."
"What would you do if you noticed the power was lost?"
"And at that very moment, the aircraft lost power and my buddy said 'Well that's a neat trick and makes it feel real.' To which the instructor said 'No, that's not me. This is real.' Apparently, my buddy giggled and said 'oh no.'"
"And then they had to crash into the gulf and he swam away."
"I can't think of a better example than that."
The Thing In The Bushes
"When I was about 5-6, my mom and her best friend took us kids out huckleberry picking. We brought a battery power radio so we were making noise and would not startle any wildlife. We were all kind of spread out around these wild berry bushes. The adults heard this snorting, stomping, and sounds of a large animal moving through the dense overgrown areas coming towards us. They freaked out, screaming for us kids to run to them so we could run to the truck together. Moms friend threw her FULL bucket of huckleberries (5 gallon bucket, took all day to fill) at whatever was coming, hoping to distract it..."
"It was a cow."
You never know what strangers are capable of, especially where drugs are involved.
Sacrifice For The Devil
"I used to work in a group home. I was working a night shift and one of the residents was pacing by his room. I asked him what he was doing, he went into his room quickly. I assumed he was on meth since that's what he liked doing. Thought not much of it until a few hours goes by. I go to get some water and heat up my food, and he is standing in the hallway. Again, I ask him how he's doing and try to check in with him. This guy starts speaking in some made-up language in a loud whisper (think Harry Potter talking to the basalisk). He then takes like 4 steps slowly toward me then stops. He says 'I can't stop him forever.'"
"I call police for his and the the safety of the house."
"Police show up and talk to him for a bit in private. One officer comes back to my office and says 'yeeeah, he's not himself right now. Said the date was May 50, 2100.' It was January... and 2015. They took him away. They also found and took a pocket knife off of him and gave it to me for safekeeping."
"Now if that wasn't already messed up, I went back on the security footage and I saw him stand outside of my office door (outside my view) for like 30 minutes without me realizing. Standing still, like in paranormal activity."
"I checked the camera from when he was speaking the weird language, and he was standing there for like 20 minutes heavy breathing before I walked by."
"2 weeks goes by and he's released from the hospital sober and mentally present again. He decided to move out of the house. He came by to grab his stuff, and pulled me aside to apologize. I forgave him and tried to brush it off. Buddy looks me in the eyes and said that he was planning on killing me that night for a blood sacrafice since he was seeing some crazy stuff and he believed a demon was controlling him, but the police ruined his plan."
"I kept the knife as a morbid souvenir."
The following people these Redditors engaged with were very suspect. No drugs were apparently involved, but they were apparently quite mental.
"So, just for context, I'm Scottish. I was on Holiday in Durham and it was late afternoon. We just arrived and we were going to visit the Cathedral."
"So these lads (likely students, they were obviously on a night out or something) came up to me and were like 'hey do you know how to get to so-and-so street' and I was like 'sorry, I'm not from here.' Suddenly the guy got mad and was all 'are you Irish, ARE YOU IRISH?!' And I was like 'No I'm Scottish' (but I was sure I was going to get beaten up because, let's be honest, if he's like this to someone who's Irish then he'll not exactly be hunky Dory with Scots), but when I said that his demenor did a 180 and he was all 'oh right, you're cool, sorry to bother you' and walked off."
"And that's the story of when I was nearly hatecrimed because someone thought I was Irish."
"Went out for a drink with a pretty girl I got talking to on a bus. She was a bit awkward, but seemed kinda fun. She kept talking about her roommate, and the crazy hi-jinks they got up to. She even joked that we would have a threesome if I went back to her place."
"We went back to hers... at which point I found out that her roommate was a barbie doll that she talked to like it was a real person. Her place clearly hadn't been cleaned for years, and the toilet was full of green 'matter.'"
"The final straw for me was when I stepped on her cat's corpse..."
Not The Basement
"Couple of years ago I was picking up a chair I had bought from craigslist. I drove to this guys house and got a creepy vibe instantly when I stepped inside, for reasons I can't really understand to this day. After a minute or so of small talk, where he was mostly busy staring at me and not completely focused on the conversation, he asked me to follow him down to the basement where the chair supposedly was. As he went for the staircase he raised the volume of the music playing to a level that was distinctly louder than normal."
"I noped the f'k out and went straight home again."
In middle school, I was not a popular kid. So it surprised me when my fellow classmates who were viewed as "popular" actually engaged in a conversation with me during lunch when I was sitting by myself.
They asked me what my favorite food was and what TV shows I watched. I genuinely thought they were interested in me, but I was also skeptical about their forced friendliness.
My suspicions were confirmed when, in my peripheral vision, I saw their buddies dragging a trashcan over towards me.
I blurted, "gotta go!" and I darted. Those jerks were going to throw me in the garbage!
Chocolate milk hair and spaghetti sauce-drenched shirt was avoided that day, thanks to my gut instincts. Damn bullies.
Deciding to foster a child, while clearly admirable, is the furthest thing from a no-brainer. So much consideration must go into the decision to provide safety and security to a child who hasn't always had it.
Nobody has ever left a thriving, trauma-free family dynamic and found themselves suddenly plopped into the foster care system.
A child arrives there because the adults in their lives have struggled to give them what they need, be that love, nutrition, physical safety, or stable emotional environments.
So a foster parent enters a child's narrative a little after the fact. That can make the whole experience a real challenge.
Curious to learn the specifics of those challenges, Redditor RaeRai293 asked:
"People who are or have been in the foster system: What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a foster parent?"
Many people unpacked the nuanced dynamics of a well-known element of foster care: children arrive with a history of trauma.
"I had a friend growing in up whose biological parents were foster parents. I remember that when I went round I wasn't allowed alone with certain children there. We are still friends now and said that alot of children are from abusive families, physically, mentally."
"So you need to be prepared to receive children that have experienced horrific things in their life and the baggage that brings."
You Will Not Be Perfect
"Take care of yourself. You are not a superhero. If you don't remember self care (mental, emotional & physical), you will struggle."
"You cannot give from an empty cup and foster kids will drain you. They are suffering from trauma and you will feel that. Don't ignore your needs or they will suffer more."
Prepare for Some Sorrow
"It can be extremely heartbreaking. My aunt and uncle fostered a few kids. The 2 youngest girls were i believe 6 and 4 when they took them in. Their birth mother was an addict and sex worker."
"I remember once we had planned a camping trip."
"When we told them we were going camping they started hysterically crying. I later found out to them 'camping' was sleeping out in the streets."
Coming on the back of those upsetting realities, the foster parent's conduct and parenting style needs to be very deliberate.
"Regardless of how long the kid stays with you, they will remember how you treat them. Be patient, many may not understand what is happening at first. Most will be angry but even if they upset you don't let it show."
It's Not About Your Opinion
"Have lots of empathy for everyone involved. Put aside your judgments and listen. Figure out how you can best serve the kids. There is no magic pill that will help them. It takes time, therapy, patience and a lot of empathy."
Not For No Reason
"go easy on them. We dont act out because we just feel like it or hate you, we act out because we're not used to being treated nicely and in the back of our head we always know that we could be sent away any day so we might not wanna get attached too fast."
"my sister and I went into foster care when we were really young and we came from a very abusive family so we just expected every family to be like that? I'd flinch every time someone tried to touch or hug me and I still don't like it. you just gotta be very patient because you never really know what they went through"
Last, others reminded folks that the point of foster care is to provide temporary safety until the child can, ideally, return home.
For obvious reasons, that's so important for people to get straight.
Know the Goal
"The system is designed to reunify families as its first goal. If you are in it to adopt you will have conflicting priorities. If you're not, you should keep in mind that in order for a successful reunification to happen, you really need to forge a relationship with the bio parent(s) and in a sense, foster them as well."
"Almost all parents who are part of the system probably should have been foster kids based on what they grew up with. Treat the kid (s) as part of your family but recognize the pain of a parent having their child taken away. Regardless of what they did, they are probably hurting"
A Different Thing Entirely
"The goal of foster care is reunification, not adoption. I wish more foster parents understood that. You're not entitled to someone else's child, and foster care is not some free version of adoption."
"It can be a result, but the goal 99% of the time is reunification with bio parents. Also, no matter the situation, there WILL be trauma. It's not easy."
Remind Children Too
"First of all; As a foster you are part of a system trying to reunite families."
"First time children are going to be confused and frightened, reassure them that everyone, including you, is working on getting them back to their family."
"Children that have been in the system before will still be frightened, but might not show it, they may also be scared of going back to their parents."
"Each will be different and you need to adjust to their needs. Emotional and physical."
"Treat them as you treat your own child. This means feeding them the same,(and healthy foods) getting the clothes they need, making sure they get to the dentist and doctor, giving them treats/toys/fun things as well."
"Give them their own safe space."
"Allow them to make choices (which shirt/shoes do you want? Do you like this food? What meal do you want tonight, choice 1 or chose 2?) They have no control in their own lives, this helps give them some control."
"Get them a suitcase, that's theirs, that they can take with them when they move on. Most don't have one."
"Give them an allowance from the money you get for housing them and spend the rest of the money on things they need. It's for them, to help you care from them and it's not yours to vacation on or by your (bio) kid a new iPad."
"THEY WILL REMEMBER YOU FOR THEIR WHOLE LIVES. Someday you may be a horror story about their past, or you may be the one who gets remembered fondly and with love. You dammed better be the one they remember with love."
Perhaps fostering a child has crossed your mind in the past. Here's hoping this list helped you iron out your motives, concerns, and confidence level.
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