By now many of you have heard about the ruckus involving a Standford student convicted of raping an unconscious woman. The judge issued a fairly lenient sentence (as lenient as any sentence can be when one is required to register as a sex offender) and many are calling for both his head and the rapist’s head. The reasoning for the “light” sentence is that the convicted had no prior criminal record and was deemed to be with good chances of rehabilitation in prison. This logic combined with the outcry of many circles is what interests me. If prison is intended to be a tool of rehabilitation, then the system must be celebrated when it is successful. This would dictate that sentences be made proportional to the odds of successful conversion from criminal behavior to prosocial behavior. However, we are left in a world of bloodlust as the very people that decry the prison system are outraged that its power was not used in complete force with respect to the convicted. After all, it’s okay to empathize with the disadvantaged that wind up in the system, but for those in which it is agreeable to pile on crucifixion, it must be done so with great gusto.
What if oncologists refused to treat patients with terminal cancer? Chalking up the afflicted for dead, imagine that they withhold treatment that could extend the quality of life for those dying as well as for those around the dying. I would imagine that there would be a great murmur from society, proclaiming such withholding of treatment to not only be unethical but antithetical to the promise of life. Why then is it acceptable to withhold treatment from those having personality disorders? This post will focus particularly on the lack of available treatment options for those with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), but this can extend to other disorders considered taboo or worthy of scorn by society; those such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder. “Fluffy” disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are not meant to be part of this discussion.
This post is a logical continuation of yesterday’s post.
It would be fallacious to assume that all of the 23% of psychopaths who aren’t in prison are well-adapted, just as it would be as fallacious to assume that all of those in prison are necessarily maladapted. Luck and proclivity play a part here. While rarer these days, I still have a penchant for some activities that are contrary to the law; in this sense I believe that the successful psychopath is merely less criminal on average. Certainly one can be psychopathic without having broken any laws ever, but this is a difficult path to walk and the psychopathic mind with its selfishness is certainly primed for antisocial and/or criminal activity.
Nevertheless, I find it difficult to communicate with those that are more inclined to be lawbreakers than me. As I wrote in yesterday’s post, I have a mental block when it comes to understanding those voices that demand some bloodletting from time to time. I understand fully those that leave me messages on social media proclaiming agreement with my notion of relative restraint, but I have a very difficult time understanding those that legitimately struggle with their violent or destructive fantasies. This often makes me feel like a heretic, not just in relation to society but in relation to my fellow psychopaths as well.
What if oncologists did not study less lethal forms of cancer? What if they studied only lung and pancreatic cancer and declared the rest of cancer untreatable and unworthy of study as a result? This may sound ludicrous, but this is exactly what happens with the study of psychopaths. Academic researchers go to where they know they can find psychopaths: prisons. However, they did not include the possibility that there are psychopaths outside of prison walls because such field studies would prove “too hard”. This leads to a general picture of what the psychopath can do but not the complete picture of all psychopaths. If Kent Kiehl is right in his book, The Psychopath Whisperer, then 77% of psychopaths are in jail. This means that roughly 1 in 4 are not, however. Leaving 25% of any population unaccounted for is laughable, but yet we are expected to treat the prison psychopath as representative of all psychopaths. This is the result of nothing less than systematic failure when it comes to the study of psychopaths.
We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ before. When it comes to studying the psyche this approach could not be more dangerous. It would be ludicrous to claim that depression is incurable or that it can be cured with one silver bullet, yes? It would be considered tactless to write off all schizophrenics as untreatable. Yet, the psychopath is deemed incurable and untreatable. The mental health professionals that are sworn to help those that seek their aid tend to refer clients with antisocial disorders to other professionals who then do the same thing until these clients are exhausted. The view that the antisocial is untreatable is ubiquitous. And, this has no reason to change. Before we dive in, let me note that I am playing a bit fast and loose with the terms ‘cure’ and ‘treat’ with respect to the psychopath or otherwise antisocial. The antisocial most likely does not want to be cured, but she may wish to control her disorder rather than it control her.