From a young age Samantha had a mean streak. She would push her siblings, pinch them, trip them over, even tear up their pocket money.
Psychologists suggested delayed empathy, impulsiveness, reactive attachment disorder, and –
hurtfully – even poor parenting.
But then, at the age of six, Samantha placed her hands around her two-year-old sister’s throat and squeezed.
The little US girl’s story has been told by Barbara Bradley Hagerty of The Atlantic, and offers rare insight into what lead to her eventual, disturbing diagnosis: conduct disorder with callous and unemotional traits, a key indicator of a budding psychopath.
Having adopted her at the age of two, Samantha’s parents observed her petty cruelty escalate; her behaviour become premeditated, calculated, vengeful.
Once, after being scolded by her mother at the age of five, she washed the woman’s contact lenses down the drain.
“She knew exactly what she was doing,” her adoptive mother told Bradley Hagerty. “There was an ability to wait until an opportune moment to exact her revenge on someone.”