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The Macdonald Triad

The MacDonald Triad comprises three behavioral problems frequently associated with children at high risk for violence: enuresis (involuntary urination, or chronic bed-wetting), firesetting, and cruelty to animals. The childhoods of violent offenders vary in complexity. Some are much more sociopathic than others; they are more aggressive, more manipulative, express less remorse, and experience fewer feelings of guilt. Yet similar characteristics can be observed in children who do not grow up to become violent offenders. In truth, each child processes experiences differently. Children also react differently to stress, which may well be the generic predisposer to many maladaptive behaviors in childhood. Because children do not possess the same coping skills for life's stressors, some children are at greater risk of developing inappropriate behaviors.

Psychopathology during childhood can ...

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