I look in the mirror and this I see. Hate, apathy, and all in between. You look in the mirror and what do you see? Love, compassion, and all in between. Which one of us is lying?
I gave an interview last weekend on the intersection of Antisocial Personality Disorder and relationships. Part theory, part experience, and part opinion, I hope that I have given pause to those that would rather see all ASPD (and psychopathic) individuals locked away or rendered permanently mute. I take a dual-pronged approach when attempting to win allies from the neurotypical – a word I use to mean not ASPD and not psychopathic – community. I strongly believe in two things: that individual ASPD individuals need not fall to tired stereotypes even if they once did and that the neurotypical is with great hypocrisy when it comes to striking down “bad” behavior. The antisocial can look into the mirror and see hope, while the neurotypical can look into that same mirror and see the darkness of the human condition.
The ASPD or psychopathic individual need not paint the future with the same colors that the canvas of the past contained. I realize that the majority of ASPD-spectrum individuals see no reason to change their behavior and may not see anything troublesome with their actions, but a subset do realize that it is in their best interests to act in a prosocial fashion. Note that realizing that one should act prosocial is not the same as abandoning the antisocial mindset that one is with. Ultimately this distinction should not matter. It may have taken me nearly thirty years of life to realize my best interests do not lie in the whirlwind of destruction that is my past. It may have taken unusual circumstances and a trained psychotherapist to help me off the tightrope that I walked between success and complete destruction. And, it takes conviction to remain committed to restraint. However, I know that I am not alone on this front. I know that there are many antisocials that have reformed to one extent or another. Maybe the reformation is not total, but it is certainly worthy of praise rather than continued disdain from the neurotypicals around us. As such, I see a complicated picture when I look in the mirror. Proclivity and actuality fight in the background and only time will tell which one shall be the true victor.
Just as the antisocial may eventually see the merits of prosocial behavior (or at least mostly prosocial behavior), the neurotypical can certainly succumb to the antisocial proclivities that live within us all. To my neurotypical reader, can you say with certainty that you’ve never forsaken another due to their orientation? Are you without bigotry in all forms? Is your empathy truly equal-opportunity? Are you without sin, or is sin branded into your skin? These questions may seem loaded, but it is very important to realize the gravity of such a realization. Everyone is capable of evil. Everyone is capable of good. The spectrum of morality that we reside on is a continuum rather than a binary. Antisocials tend to fall closer to the side of immorality while neurotypicals fall closer to the side of morality, but there is great overlap. I am not foolish enough to suggest that he without sin throw the first stone, but I do suggest that we all examine our sin as we tear into the flesh of others. For the interested reader on this subject, you may check out the morality tag on this blog for further posts related to this overlap.
Proclivity and the past need not dictate the future. You may want to bet on my kind’s antisocial bent, but be aware that it is not a guaranteed bet by any means. Let us both gaze into the mirror. Let us see the complexity that the human condition brings and open our eyes to the possibility that caricatures need not apply to either group in this fight. I asked which one of us was lying to begin this post? The truth is, we both are. None are as dark as they think they are and none are good as they think they are. We lie on a continuum and we each bring individuality that must be respected lest our portraits become distorted and our truth become lies.