The time shortly after I was diagnosed as psychopathic was a very difficult one. I essentially was diagnosed with stage four cancer of the soul. There was no way to candy-coat it. I was, and am, a member of one of the most hated groups on earth. It did not trouble me that I was considered psychopathic by a professional administering the PCL-R. I didn’t want to be a psychopath. I didn’t want to not be a psychopath. The label itself bore no immediate internal meaning. I was interested in learning about myself more than anything. However, once I had time to digest and reflect, it became difficult. Ignorance was bliss in many ways and now I had to reconcile the diagnosis with my own perception of self – which, granted, involved a lot of turning a blind eye to the actions of my past as well as downplaying my lack of empathy and conscience. When I finally had to confront those “demons” head on, I flailed. I was in denial.
The professional that I was working with to prevent relapse of the depression I had suffered from during previously in life agreed with the diagnosis. They worked tirelessly to assure me that nothing fundamentally had changed and that it could be a great opportunity to learn about myself. I was still fighting the diagnosis tooth and nail, though. I had never been convicted of any crime and I had always been a relatively productive member of society. How could the diagnosis be right? Sure, I was completely without empathy or conscience, and I’d lie, and I’d manipulate and I’d do a whole host of different unsavory actions, but doesn’t everyone from time to time? Was I really that fundamentally different from others to warrant such a diagnosis? Whether or not I was psychopathic did not matter, what mattered is that the correct diagnosis had been made.
I still struggle with the diagnosis from time to time. Even today, I neither want to be a psychopath nor do not want to be a psychopath. I just want to, each day, understand myself better than the day before. I am complex and I am different than most. I see the world through more distant eyes and I have no reservations about using deception to get what I need or want. I give to charity and I offer non-emotional support to friends in need. However, none of this changes the fact that I am different. I can nitpick the diagnosis to no end, but in the end I am still psychopathic.
The facets that the diagnosis measures will not kill me – directly, anyway. However, my personality is still cancerous. On any given day I may feel confident that I’ll go to sleep in my own bed in the evening, but over time I may become weaker in a sense. I may slip one day and cause fatal damage to some important relationship. I might cross a line and attract the ire of the authorities. My recklessness may literally kill me. I can cover my eyes and my ears all I want and pretend that I’m like everyone else, but I’m not. The diagnosis itself matters little as long as I am free. What does matter, is that I use it as a learning opportunity. I want to know myself better today than yesterday. Sometimes that knowledge just might be uncomfortable.