We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ before. When it comes to studying the psyche this approach could not be more dangerous. It would be ludicrous to claim that depression is incurable or that it can be cured with one silver bullet, yes? It would be considered tactless to write off all schizophrenics as untreatable. Yet, the psychopath is deemed incurable and untreatable. The mental health professionals that are sworn to help those that seek their aid tend to refer clients with antisocial disorders to other professionals who then do the same thing until these clients are exhausted. The view that the antisocial is untreatable is ubiquitous. And, this has no reason to change. Before we dive in, let me note that I am playing a bit fast and loose with the terms ‘cure’ and ‘treat’ with respect to the psychopath or otherwise antisocial. The antisocial most likely does not want to be cured, but she may wish to control her disorder rather than it control her.
The approach that many take with the psychopath is not inherently wrong. For one class of psychopath, the chronically criminal one, there certainly is little reason to believe that treatment could ever work. When an individual spends more time behind bars than within the four walls of their home, it is clear that they are a lost cause. However, the psychopathic fringe made up of successful psychopaths who are either less criminal or better at evading the authorities could possibly be helped due to their restraint and/or intellect. This class of psychopath can be persuaded to show restraint in exchange for life of stability rather than chaos and a life of freedom rather than imprisonment. I would know; I am proof.
However, when research into the psychopath and otherwise antisocial is dominated by those whose laboratories are adjacent to prisons, there is no hope of any change. The academic powers that be have declared that we are untreatable, regardless of whether we are overtly criminal or not. Voices that suggest otherwise are actively silenced by “common sense”. It’s insulting and dangerous. It promotes the continued cycle of incarceration and chaos as there are very few resources for those antisocials that wish to find control or learn about their condition.
I’m not saying that the psychopath wishes to be cured; many, if not most, do not even want to be treated. However, an institutional force that actively silences and disregards those that prove otherwise does nothing for the purported importance of education and societal safety. All it does is create more ruined lives, both neurotypical and psychopathic. It is infuriating. Rather than accepting what is in front of us without comment or question, maybe we should challenge the assumptions we hold. Divided we stand, united we fall.