I remember when I was diagnosed as a psychopath. Like many stories of people who had the privilege of taking the PCL-R voluntarily, I was first introduced to the term by an acquaintance. They wondered how I could so easily ruin people, how callous I was, how I possessed a severe lack of empathy, why I was so self-centered, and so on. At first I shrugged it off thinking that such was horseshit and only terrible people who do terrible things could be in the realm of psychopathy. As I did my own research, I realized that psychopathy is a mindset more than it is a reflection of action. I realized that such a mindset could very well be mine.
I think of a certain This American Life segment that sums up how I should have felt going into the assessment. I think most would have extreme apprehension at the possibility that they may be considered “darker” (I disagree with the idea of psychopathy being equivalent with immorality, but that is a topic for another day) than they ever expected. I went in with nothing more than morbid curiosity. I honestly answered the interview questions and was sent on my way. It seemed to be more of a monologue than an assessment. However, I’ve given many talks and presentations before, so talking about myself and my actions is nothing new. I left feeling even more curiosity than anything else. The only real question or fear on my mind was that the assessment was not statistically sound as I have been trained to be skeptical of such things from my days studying mathematics. I still don’t know the answer to that question, but I suppose that if it is reliable enough in practice for classification, that is good enough for me.
The results came back a time later. Once again, I felt no nervousness or fear of my assessment score. Once again, curiosity was primary. The diagnosis was not surprising. I am a psychopath according to the PCL-R. The closest to raw emotion that I felt over the diagnosis was actually elation. I had been searching for answers for why I worked the way I worked and there did happen to be a name and a condition for those behaviours. My primary concern became what that diagnosis actually meant outside of the hysteria society places upon the word.