I bought a pedometer wristband the other day. Like many models, it is bulky, but I can take it on and off with relative ease. It has its uses and helps me gather better metrics about my health. I can track where I need to make changes in my life as well as see how far I’ve come in improving my life. Mental health diagnoses are similar except for one key detail: they cannot be put on and taken off at will. A diagnosis can change a person for the better or for the worse and there are no take backs. Too many that seek out diagnoses do not understand that core fact.
Readers will often ask me about the diagnostic process as it relates to psychopathy. I must reiterate that my journey is abnormal; I was given the Psychopathy Checklist – Revised outside of the walls of a prison. In order to receive my diagnosis of ASPD and a confirmation of psychopathy, the stars had to align just right. I needed a therapist that was willing to challenge the way that I viewed the world and myself and my own dumb luck to achieve such a step in finding out what lies behind my mask.
The psychopath is only as “true” as the clinician’s skill in diagnosing. Diagnosis of inexact conditions via inexact science should always be taken with a grain of salt. There is always the possibility that a false positive was recorded. Now, if sufficient information is available to the professionals giving out diagnoses, the likelihood of false positives is lessened, but I would argue they can never be truly ruled out. I am a skeptic by nature and I am deeply skeptical of anything held as absolute truth. I would be lying if I said that in the past 18 months that I have not challenged the PCL-R results of the assessment given to me. I challenge this not because I am weary of being labeled a psychopath, but because truth ultimately is more important than any diagnosis that I could receive. I would rather know certainty even if that is a blurred image than to see clearly an image that does not represent reality. That said, I have been unable to justify an abandonment of the name given to me by the one who has seen me no less than once a week for the past 3+ years.
I imagine a meeting of the Alcoholics Anonymous in which only one of those attending has ever had a drink. The rest are there simply because they’ve found nowhere else to fit in. They go through the motions and tell the most believable of alcohol-related problems, but they’ve never tasted liquor on their tongue. Such is my immediate fear upon reading the following reader question:
I don’t believe in self diagnosis myself however, I do understand some people do not have access to mental health workers or mental health in general. And I think those who completely put down those who self diagnose or have mental health blah blah blah, should really consider circumstances. What are your thoughts?
There is a reason that my words are tailored to the antisocial adult and that I limit my communication with those that are younger. Empathy continues to develop in individuals until their late teens, for instance. Most importantly, there is a level of maturity that is required in order to succeed as a successful antisocial individual. Without the utmost in maturity, many who come to the “realization” that they are antisocial or psychopathic quickly snuff themselves out. I prefer not to see my brethren in jail or dead, but ultimately I lose no sleep over those that could not control their desires.
It is not uncommon for the newly realized antisocial to intensify their antisocial behavior. I’ve seen this time and time again with those who contact me and with my own personal experiences. Thinking that the only way to honor themselves or their diagnosis is to “prove it”, they quickly become pariahs in their social circles and some even end up in trouble with the law. I suppose this is no different than a child realizing that her vocal chords produce sound. In wonderment, she utters all sorts of sounds. More personally, I can think of the transgender individual who becomes hypergendered once they come to the realization that they know “who they are.”