I occasionally get inquiries as to why behaviors and activities such as recreational drug use fall under the antisocial umbrella. The DSM-IV lists one of the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder as being (paraphrased) a lack of interest for the safety of others or self. From this diagnostic trait, it becomes evident as to why drug use would be considered antisocial in nature. Use of some drugs and misuse of other substances can certainly result in self-harm; I know this all too well. What of other activities that blur the line between a disregard for the self and others? What about reckless driving or other adrenaline seeking behaviors? Do the lines blur with impulsivity? Just how distinct are the characteristics of this disorder? It’s all a bit fuzzy.
The truth is, that there is a lot of overlap between many of the facets of antisocial behavior. An unwillingness to take responsibility seriously, for example, can leave one’s health in jeopardy due to homelessness or an inability to get health care rendered. The antisocial’s impulsivity can lead to spur-of-the-moment destructive behaviors such as hard drug use or other thrill seeking behaviors that can jeopardize both the antisocial and those around him. Or, it could be argued to go the other direction, where the primary cause is the lack of interest in self-preservation. While I’m primarily referring to ASPD individuals in this post, the same can be said (to a more potent degree) for psychopaths with the many facets of their disorder. It is difficult to parse individual behaviors of the antisocial.
Maybe none of this matters, but I can certainly see how the overlap could be maddening to those individuals that have not figured themselves out yet. It’s hard to label oneself with characteristics when they all seem to overlap. In many ways, I wonder if this caused my own inability to find identity. There was a central, previously unknown, theme that ran through my veins, but I couldn’t separate the facets in order to see the path out of the forest. For the antisocial, nearly everything is interconnected.