PsychCentral has an article about RAD children (this isn’t Rock Against Drugs—it stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder) and their parents. The article, Why Parents of R.A.D. Children Always Look Like A**holes by W. R. Cummings, defines RAD as “a brain disorder that is caused when a child is not nurtured in the first few months of his/her life.” The description of these children reminds me of psychopathy (or “callous unemotional” if you like). They warn us that RAD kids are capable of manipulation to get what they want/need. RAD kids see people they like as “resources.” What do they want?
That might be snacks. That might be physical affection. That might be TV time. It could be a myriad of things.
Physical affection? That is something the child hugs the parent for? S/he “manipulates” the parent into giving physical affection? Why does physical affection have to be obtained by manipulation? The description of a child with RAD kind of reminds me of the way a cat behaves. Sure, most cats will rub up against your legs and purr in order to get fed. But sometimes the cat just wants to be petted.
What is manipulation? Isn’t everything manipulation when you get right down to it. We learn what behavior elicits response from others and we deliberately behave in ways we have learned will be rewarded. If we had no idea how our behavior affects the treatment we receive from other people, we would really be unmanageable and we would probably have to be institutionalized. For that matter, the way parents and other adults treat kids is just as manipulative. We try to get kids to act the way we want them too. We punish them when they do things we don’t like and reward them when they do things we do like. How is this any less manipulative than the behavior of a RAD kid or a psychopath, for that matter. Face it: Society is run on mutual manipulation. The behaviorist psychologist, B. F. Skinner recognized this as shown in his books, Walden Two and Beyond Freedom and Dignity.
The article lists ways parents of a child with RAD should behave. Some of these items are stunning. “They have to monitor every bite of food their kids take.” Say, what? Why? “They have to respond to negative behavior with a robot-like voice because giving any type of emotional reaction to their child spurs the behavior onward. They have to respond to positive behavior with a robot-like voice because being overly bubbly teaches their child how to manipulate people more thoroughly.” At this point, I start wondering if the kid was emotionally unattached before receiving this kind of treatment or if s/he is reacting to the parents’ own lack of attachment towards the child. No matter what the kid says or does, all s/he gets is a robot intent on catching the kid in bad behavior. I’m baffled as to why Cummings thinks cutting a child off emotionally is going to make hir feel attachment to the parent. Why even adopt such a child? Why not leave hir in the orphanage. The people who work at such institutions can give hir the same detached “robotic” care.
The internet is full of articles instructing people to disengage emotionally from psychopaths. They warn their readers that psychopaths only charm and seduce them as a prelude to hurting them. So go no contact or grey rock the moment you discover psychopathy in a lover. This article is telling parents to be the same way towards their child. Wild.