How many victims are created by the thought that neuroplasticity is out of reach for some? Restated, just how many people with personality disorders or mental illness succumb to caricature simply because they are told that they cannot improve? Anyone that has followed my journey these past four and some years should know how I feel on this subject. Sometimes, the best cure is simply to be told that one exists, and that it is worth fighting for.
It’s been a while. I want to touch on a subject that I’ve mentioned briefly from time to time. By now, many of you are aware of the murders by a possibly mentally ill man in Florida in which the murderer beat his victims to death and then started biting off the flesh of the face of one of the victims. So far, tests for illicit drugs have come back negative and the possibility of a mental “break” cannot be dismissed. The etiology of his bizarre behavior does not particularly concern me. However, if this is a case of mental illness, it resurrects the debate of the rights of the afflicted as contrasted with those that are “unafflicted” (or afflicted differently, at least). My position has solidified over the years, and I find that the only “fair” choice is for those that are being harmed to have safety from those that are doing harm or have done harm. Society does not need to justify a fair desire to remain safe. Is it possible that medication could help in similar circumstances with others that are mentally ill and violent? Sure. Should society have to take that risk when one has shown violence? No. Sometimes bad things happen that are irredeemable. Realization and restraint may come, but if one has shown that they are poisonous, no one has to take their word – or the word of anyone else – as sacrosanct and above those unalienable rights to safety that we all should enjoy.
Maybe it is because I surround myself with those mentally ill that are of questionable character, but I cannot find any upside to coddling the mentally ill. Many do not want to get better. Hell, I stated in my previous post that even I can succumb to tired stereotypes of not wanting to improve psychically. People with mental illness tend not to improve on their own – in the absence of external stimuli – and many will resort to manipulation knowing that others know that they are mentally ill. The former case is uninteresting and I will leave that topic to the reader for reflection. The latter is what is of great interest to me. I have used my mental illnesses to manipulate others and others have used theirs to manipulate me. The intention of the individual to commit interpersonal harm may vary, but I cannot believe that all that are mentally ill are not tempted by the reward of using their illness as a crutch. In a society that coddles the mentally ill, the rewards become self-evident and tempting to even the most pious individuals.
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.