No Body Count, No Disorder

A disorder is made up of individual traits that come together to wreck oneself or others.  A destructive trait, while problematic on its own, is not sufficient for the declaration of a disorder.  There is a certain degree of self-destruction required for a set of behaviors to register as truly disordered.  You have weak and shallow emotions?  Great.  Maybe this is problematic as you feel that you are missing out on the richness of life.  However, it takes much more than that to register as psychopathic, for example.  If your life is going well, as are the lives of those around you, then you are probably not psychopathic.  I know that some authors, such as James Fallon, push the validity of psychopathy in those that would not register as such on the PCL-R, for instance.  To me, this is insanity.  Why should those that live non-disordered lives lay claim to the struggles that those with the disorder (and/or those around them) have?  Ideally, one would not wish to be psychopathic.  Why would you want to have a malady of the soul, after all?

If we put the same scrutiny on those that claim to be psychopaths in the absence of disorder that we do on other mental illnesses and disorders, the idiocy becomes even clearer.  Borderlines certainly would not be sympathetic toward those that merely have black and white thinking – while having stable interpersonal relationships – as compared to those that are self-harming and have extremely unstable interpersonal relationships.  One that is Bipolar would not be amused by someone having a “good day” when they are fighting the dangerous throws of mania.  So on and so forth.  Psychopathy is not a superpower.  It is not something to yearn for.  The reality is that most psychopaths are in prison and most of those that are not in prison have ruined lives as well as a trail of others’ ruined lives that follow them.  Sure, maybe it is “nice” to be unconcerned with the struggles and achievements of others.  However, the impulsivity, the lack of long term goals, the explosive anger, unstable interpersonal relationships, and so on should be regarded as unproductive for a life well lived.

For these reasons, I believe that people must show a significant degree of disorder to be recognized as psychopaths and I would say that the PCL-R is a sufficient tool for modeling this.  Approximately 1% of the general population is psychopathic according to the rigid measurements that the PCL-R provides.  Many more are antisocial (ASPD), of course, but to recognize disorders for what they are worth, we must be stringent with our criteria.  We must reject those that claim to be psychopathic when they show no self-destruction or interpersonal turmoil.  We must reject those that wish to be something they are not.  There may be merit in analyzing the differences within the larger group of those that lack affective empathy, but for the purposes of acknowledging disorder for what it is, we must remain focused on where true destruction lies.  If there is no body count, there is no disorder.

The Catalyst Within
Beneath the Surface


  1. Anonymous says

    Are you interested in radical disability theory? I like this little clip about it:
    “To us, disability is not a point of individual or social tragedy but a natural and necessary part of human diversity. The tragedy of disability is not our minds and bodies but oppression, exclusion and marginalization”
    I see this mostly in physically disabled circles, but I think its message has interesting implications when applied to mental ones. I know a lot of antisocial people tend to get deep into radicalism, and I guess this is what I’m trying to ask: is ASPD inherently a societal aliment or can it be re-framed as a positive counter to the norm in an idealistic society?

    • FNP says

      Unless you’re a nihilist, it’s really quite difficult to believe that you would think that destruction, chaos, strife, etc. are features of positive counters to the norm.

      There’s a reason ( a very good one, generally) why people with ASPD and psychopaths especially are ostracized from the norm in society: we’re highly destructive.

      • Anonymous says

        Is not destructive subject to a sense of good and bad? A bad experience can be needed for someone to see what’s good in the first place – and I’m using these terms deliberately ambiguous because it’s always up for interpretation which one is which, anything else is hypocritical.

        • FNP says

          Good and bad are relative terms which have no real meaning. Something is good because someone says it is; likewise, something is bad because someone says it is.

          However, in society, most people tend to agree that violence against others and others’ things is destructive.

          A bad experience for me isn’t anything like a bad experience for you. For one thing, I really don’t have bad experiences, I just occasionally end up backed into a corner with nothing that I do making a difference on the outcome. As such, I accept the fact that it’ll happen and move on to the next thing. Furthermore, a bad experience for you could very well be a great experience for me. Most people wouldn’t be okay with seeing a bunch of bloody corpses lying around on their street. I’d be busy with some kleenex.

          • Anonymous says

            You confirmed in every way possible what I was trying to express, so I was a little confused considering that you replied to my comment. But maybe I was unclear, in that case thank you for phrasing it better.

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