A sheep in wolves’ clothing merely gets disrobed before being devoured. I don’t believe that there should be more or less legitimacy for the diagnosed versus self-diagnosed psychopath. I’ve seen politics of legitimacy play out in other circles, such as the LGBT “community”, and all it leads to is the silencing of those that are trying to find their voice. However, I do take offense to the recent rise in individuals using the label ‘psychopath’ (or equivalently, sociopath) as a means of simply trying to be edgy or to articulate other “outsider” traits. Not only is it a dangerous label to use, but it also confuses this often misunderstood condition in the eyes of others. How can the intelligent psychopath educate from the shadows if others are constantly throwing misinformation around?
The whole phenomenon as of late reminds me of the “emo” movement of the 1990s. For whatever reason the misunderstood and the misfit gravitated toward the label like moths to flame. Many consciously changed their appearances and mannerisms just to fit in. It wasn’t so much that the style truly reflected them, they simply wanted some avenue to feel “unique” in their own ways. Ironically, the search for uniqueness and meaning diluted the effect over all.
To proclaim thyself a psychopath is infinitely more dangerous. There is a great social stigma associated with the condition. The legal system is want to lock up psychopaths indefinitely. I would argue that it is not a condition to be emulated by those seeking a costume to wear. I have argued some of the benefits of psychopathy before, but I do not want to leave my readers with the thought that there is no drawback. The psychopath is always cognizant of the condition and fit of his mask. Should it come off, the consequences are quite severe. Being socially ostracized is the least of the outed psychopath’s worries. Those of us that know no other way are hopefully prepared for such consequences. The emulator seeking some “edgy group” to belong to is most likely not.
Very few are actually psychopaths. Those meeting the criteria of the de facto standard assessment make up roughly one percent of the human race. Many more are non-psychopathic ASPD individuals. Whenever the term is thrown around without honoring its meaning, the facts behind the condition get diluted. Psychopathy is not the same as bloodlust. Psychopathy is much more than lacking empathy. It is a complex condition with many facets and nuances and should be appreciated as such. The misuse of the label results in the children’s game of telephone. The original message is diluted and twisted beyond recognition.
Finally, I return to the sentence that I opened this post with. The sheep in wolves’ clothing merely gets disrobed before being devoured. I am relatively harmless compared to many wolves I know. A sheep is a sheep and is merely another toy in the game. Do you want to risk being eaten by a wolf angered by a lack of respect? For that matter, do you want to be shot by your shepherd that is too blind to know the difference between a softened snarl coming from faux fur and the real thing?