Conversations about Cluster B Disorders – Accommodation Vs. Respect

So let’s say that you are tired of wearing your mask.  You are some fashion of Cluster B in nature (Antisocial Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, etc.).  You are tired of the contortions you must go through on a daily basis to be welcomed in society.  You realize that there are facets of your disorder that affect you negatively – though not fatally and possibly not even as a major inconvenience – but yet you are tired of all of the recommended tropes required to appear normal.  You realize that others may look at you in the way one would look at a crazed person if you were simply to act out without explanation.  How do you set up the conversation with those around you?  How do you let them know of those things that make you, you?

Many therapists will be quick to point out the difference between having a disorder and being the disorder.  They’ll tell clients that they are not Borderline for instance, but rather they have Borderline Personality Disorder.  It’s interesting, because for many that are afflicted with Cluster B disorders, identity may very well be tied to those mechanisms that comprise the disorder.  How can you not be personality X, especially when personality X is so closely tied to one’s view of oneself?  Yet, society wants such identities to be subdued and hidden.  What if we were to tell a bisexual person that they are not bisexual, but rather have bisexual proclivities?  I’m sure a storm would erupt.

When something as important as identity is on the line, it becomes clear that conversations with others regarding a particular condition are necessary.  I do not believe in a multiculturalist tactic of accommodation.  That is, I find it unreasonable to proclaim that all conditions are created equal and that it is in society’s best interest to look the other way.  However, the tactic that identity is core component of humanity shows promise.  To deny a person the right to express themselves according to their wiring is to deny them their very humanity.  Returning to the example of the bisexual, consider the hypothetical situation in which they are denied recognition as bisexual but rather referred to as heterosexual or homosexual based on the partner(s) they surround themselves with.  Consider the amputee who is told to suck it up instead of forging a new identity as disabled.

This may seem like accommodation, but it is not.  There is a very subtle, but important, distinction.  Accommodation states that a behavior or trait will be accepted without question or consideration to the underlying mechanisms.  Respect dictates that another be given autonomy due to the fact that they have an unalienable right to be themselves.  The distinction arises in the personal nature of the power conferred to another individual.  This is ultimately the tactic I use when I must bring up my own Cluster B disorders to others.  In the absence of negative consequences for those around me, I must be given the ability to be authentic.  Whether this results in a fight against the disorder at hand or tacit resignation is up to me as an individual.  It is not another’s place to tell me that I am “suffering.”  It is my own place to determine how I will live with those mechanisms that make me, me, and I alone must live with that.  If another respects me, they will not succumb to the accomodationist view that I should exist solely as a matter of fact.  They will instead show respect, for I am deserving it.

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