Less than two months after a 12-year-old girl was jailed for trying to poison her mother’s breakfast smoothie comes yet another shocking tale of a young woman sabotaging food in order to cause harm. University of South Carolina student Hayley King, 22, was caught on camera taking her roommates’ food out of the refrigerator and contaminating it with Windex, along with some of her own spit.
These two stories are eerily similar for many reasons. The first of which is the potentially deadly punishment for a relatively insignificant infringement. The 12-year-old (whose name has been withheld due to age) was getting back at her mother for taking away her iPhone, while King was seeking revenge towards housemates who wanted her to move out. But a larger, and more important, similarity is that the two girls may likely have a specific and identifiable personality type that scientists now think they could easily recognize.
Sure poison has been used as a tool of harm all throughout our history inspiring countless pages written about criminal acts, such as King’s, focusing on the crime, the forensic evidence and how law enforcement can do a better job at detecting poison as a cause of death. However, not a lot has been written about the kind of woman who would do such a thing. It is only in the past three years that we can now put together traits that are so specific, we can even do a listicle and we can call it:
6 Ways to tell if your friend is thinking about pouring Windex in your yogurt
1. She’s non-confrontational
The healthiest thing about any of the Real Housewives is how intensely they get in each other’s faces at even the smallest indignity. Any person in your inner circle who lets those social slights go, while they instead allow them to eat at their insides, may be adding “arsenic” to her grocery list. Female poisoners tend to not only bottle up what they perceive as an injustice, but will use that as their justification for why you deserve to be assaulted.
2. She’s not just “smart,” she’s clever
If you think about it, poisoning someone requires a certain kind of premeditation that another more impulsive act lacks. Not only does she have to think about the type of potion to use, she has to consider what food she could hide it in, what can sicken versus what can kill, how to keep you from discovering her plan before it’s enacted, how to mask the taste, the color and what subterfuge she can use to get you to consume the tainted edible. She’s not just smart, she’s cunning and she has to be in order to get her plan to work.
3. She’s incredibly immature
Experts have found that the most successful poisoners are also the most immature. Just like children they have to get their own way, all the time, and if they can’t, a tantrum won’t do; you will have to go. Like a toddler boldly grabbing a toy from the hands of another, the female poisoner wants what they want, and doesn’t care about your needs.
4. Her parents spoiled her
One of the traits that keeps surfacing in every book, study and article on the personality of a poisoner seems to be that she was treated too well as a child. This type of entitlement that she grew up with goes beyond the usual “you’re so special” trope that has been linked to run-of-the-mill narcissism. The kind of entitlement that this type of spoiled child grows up with is a severe lack of empathy butted up against some very serious Veruca Salt-like “the world revolves around me” attitude. This would explain the heartless, indifferent nature of the crime.
5. A glaring feeling of inadequacy
No one quality paints the picture of an entire personality type, but some qualities are more influential than others. Taken together, the previous four could predict other types of personality issues, but once you add this overwhelming sense of inadequacy to the mix it becomes a highly combustible brew.
Researchers see this trait over and over but it looks less like someone enamored with their own beauty, and more as someone who has themselves convinced they would never get caught. Mainly because they know they are the most unlikely of criminals. This type of vanity is a confidence, a pride or an arrogance that nobody would ever look at them, of all people, and suspect them of such a nefarious act.
Luckily (and statistically) women commit far less violent crimes than men, so you’re probably safe. Just don’t forget to invite Karen to your party if you’re planning on having coffee with her the next day.