Belly of the Beast

I see time and time again those that wish to diagnose themselves with ASPD in absence of a professional opinion.  I’m not sure why this is; people don’t self-diagnose themselves with cancer for instance.  Usually human nature would dictate that we see ourselves as healthy when we are not.  Rarely – and even more rarely is this rooted in a healthy psyche – do we see ourselves as sick when we are otherwise.  As with any personality disorder, a diagnosis can only be made if the underlying condition causes a persistent and pervasive discomfort in one’s life.  That is, there must be significant underlying suffering, either on the part of the afflicted or those around him.  In the case of ASPD, this is typically defined by a constant and unchanging pattern of interpersonal instability, trouble on the job or with the law, and other manifestations that severely hamper the afflicted or those around her.  “I kicked a cat once, ” is not sufficient grounds for diagnosis.  “I have trouble keeping a job, have unstable interpersonal relationships, and have been in trouble with the law,” may very well be.

In my own life, I’ve had troubles in nearly every way imaginable due to my antisocial behavior.  While I am mellowing these days, there was a time when my job was on the line and I had been in jail,  I was constantly breaking the law, and those around me left because of my selfish and callous treatment of them.  My impulsivity leaves me nearly destitute, and my pathological lying will eventually catch up to me.  The diagnosis should hold even if any one event is removed from the picture, and in my case, this is certainly true.  I may not be prototypical, but I am disordered, and this is what allows for a sound diagnosis by the trained professional that I work with.

It is hard to take seriously those that cannot see that their alignment may not be disordered.  While unlikely, it is quite possibly to lack affective empathy (a sign of psychopathy) and live a peaceful and harmonious life.  Likewise, it is quite possible to have ended up in the legal system without any sign of disorder extending past a mistake or two.  People should not want to be disordered.  Yes, in the case of the psychopath, it may help paint a picture of identity for an individual, but in the vast majority of cases, there is little benefit to actually being mentally ill.   Why then do so many gravitate toward a label that is not theirs to claim?  The belly of the beast is not up for debate: the label only applies when the symptoms are reflective of underlying instability that causes hardship for oneself or others.

It is curious to note that it seems that an interconnected world leads to more self-diagnosing than ever before.  I am unaware of such an epidemic of irrational thought prior to the age of modern social media.  It is possible, that in today’s world of relative isolation – brought on by the very technologies that allow us to commune virtually – that a void exists for many and that group membership is sought as a panacea for such desolation.  Countless ‘ask blogs’ and ‘community blogs’ exist where individuals seek identity through the experiences of others.  While some of these outlets may have healthy advice for those actually afflicted with a given mental illness, they risk cultivating a new breed of mentally ill – those that think they are but actually are not.  For this reason – among others – I decided not to carry the forums that used to exist on this site over to the current hosting provider.  Swapping stories is one thing; trying to become something you are not is another.

If you are worried that you are antisocial, you probably are not.  If you think that your unknown condition may reach the level of true disorder, talk to a trained professional about it.  Attaching oneself to a label that may not fit is deleterious.  It can cause a change in one’s own behavior as the individual tries to fit a shape that their mass does not reflect.  It can cause interpersonal chaos as others evaluate what you say without evidence supporting such.  It can fuck with your identity in ways that you never imagined.  Mental illness is neither gold nor silver; its value cannot be measured in traditional ways.  It is better to be healthy than sick, and the same holds for any personality disorder – no matter what the afflicted may say.  Yes, I rather enjoy my psychopathic status.  However, I would be a fool to suggest that it does not cause great intrapersonal and interpersonal strife at times.  ASPD and/or psychopathy are not badges to be worn.  They are not the trends of the day.  The only way you can claim these labels is two-fold.  They must cause a great deal of disorder in one’s life, and a professional must recognize this and confer confirmation or diagnosis.  Ask yourself, why are you wishing for mental cancer?  If you are seeking to explain chaos, then welcome.  If you are trying to fit in to a group that should be best left alone, then please show yourself out.

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