Crybabies and ‘Paths

James, writing in No Psychos, wondered what babies have got to cry about. Their lives crybabyare so perfect. “I’ve always found it odd that very young children cry. I think ‘What have you got to cry about? You have no responsibilities. You can play all day. ‘” And he wondered if “even in infancy, a psychopath may be far less prone to crying than others.”

I thought about it and replied, in part, that one reason babies cry is physical discomfort. They get things like colic. They wake up hungry with wet diapers. They get diaper rash. And they might get lonely if they are left alone in their crib. They cry when they are startled with loud sounds. And I understand they need their mothers to “mirror” their facial expressions and get upset if their mothers don’t do it. Also, I understand most babies have empathy. So if another baby starts crying, the baby who hears it can start crying out of empathy.

crybaby1Thinking about it more deeply, I went on saying that I don’t blame babies for crying a lot. After all, finding themselves thrust into this world. They don’t even known where their bodies end and the world begins. They can’t coordinate their arms and legs or even see in the beginning. They suddenly depend on an outside person, the mother, usually. She controls when they eat, when they are warm or cold, when their diapers change, etc. Then they begin crawling and then walking. Everything is really difficult. Fortunately, it’s not in the nature of a baby to be a quitter. They keep trying until they succeed.

As for James’ remark, addressing the hypothetical baby, “the normals haven’t even infected you with the misery they live with yet,” I knew at an early age that adults were full of shit. I assumed most of what they told me was a lie. One of my earliest memories was distrusting what I was told. It’s not that they were necessarily lying. But they seemed to be deceiving themselves. I distrusted even things that later turned out to be true. For example, I was told New York, my hometown, was the biggest city in the world and the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world. I immediately thought, “I’ll bet everyone says that about the city they live in.” I was also told over and over that childhood was the best time in my life, just like you are saying. I thought, “I don’t believe it.” Guess what. I grew up and discovered that childhood was not the best time in my life. I enjoyed adulthood much more. Sure, there are hassles. But there is also more freedom.

meM.E. Thomas, author of Confessions of a Sociopath, sheds some light on the subject.

“When I was an infant I had a particularly bad case of colic, a poorly understood condition affecting infants whose main symptom is frequent, inconsolable crying. My parents complain about it even now, what a difficult child I was, especially because I came so soon after my brother Jim, who was needy in his way.

“My parents have very vivid memories of taking me to functions with my extended family during which I would wail the entire time. Each aunt, uncle, or grandparent would think they had the solution, and each would eventually give up in desperation. When my parents recount the stories now, they express a hint of vindication that no one else could console me. It seems to reflect a happy truth for them—that there was nothing wrong with them as parents, only something wrong with me. My father openly acknowledges that he would frequently just leave me in a room to cry myself to exhaustion. At the age of six weeks I was finally taken to my pediatrician—I had ruptured my navel due to excessive crying. I’m sure my parents did as well as they could, but it no doubt must have been difficult to tolerate such a child, much less nurture it.

“Long after my colic days were done, my mother says that I was a remarkably independent child. When I was left in the church’s nursery for the first time, I was the only baby who didn’t cry or ask for my parents, playing quietly and happily with the unfamiliar toys of the schoolroom until I was picked up. It was as if it made no difference to me where I was or who was looking after me. Maybe I missed a window of opportunity like those less-licked baby mice.

“The brain learns different skills at different stages that are tied to neural development and growth. If a child misses the correct developmental window to learn a particular skill or concept, for example empathy, that child’s brain may never be able to catch up or become normal.”

This suggests that she may have been a “normal” baby until the colic traumatized her, causing sociopathy. As a sociopath, she was like the hypothetical psychopathic baby in James’ blog post. Quiet and detached.

Another psychopathic baby, this time in fiction, was Keven Khatchadorian. He was another constantly-crying baby. Ezra Miller “was ravenous” to play this role and he did. About Keven, he says, “If a baby feels ignored, even if subtly, there’s an awareness in a baby … If a child feels neglected, he’s gonna clamor for attention.” In another interview, he said “Some people are just born screaming.”

4 thoughts on “Crybabies and ‘Paths

  1. The formulas out there are probably causing colic. Not that that’s the point, but that’s what I think. I had colic too. My mother’s answer to my crying was to feed me more.

    Also, leaving an infant to cry to exhaustion teaches it ‘learned helplessness.’

    My opinion: What happens in the brain and how the adult copes later will depend on how that is internalized in addition to… I think… certain innate traits of the person.

    Some people are innately more resilient. Some are more likely to fall into the belief that they are helpless and so accomplish nothing throughout life. Others will respond in the complete opposite direction, proving to themselves and everyone else that they can accomplish anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not responding to a baby’s cries is just plain rude. It’s like not replying to a person in a conversation. It teaches the baby not to bother trying to communicate. And it teaches the lesson that people can’t be counted on.


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